Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in children, doctors warn of lifelong side effects |

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in children, doctors warn of lifelong side effects

"COVID-19 cases in children — who could get sick for life — have risen 32 percent in two weeks

Sick girl lying on bed in ICU during COVID-19 (Getty Images/Morsa Images)

In the 1940s and 1950s, the polio epidemic left tens of thousands of people disabled for the rest of their lives. Even after virologist Dr. Jonas Salk announced a successful vaccine in 1955, there were still heart-wrenching photographs of paralyzed children for whom that inoculation was released far too late. Some of the most powerful imagery from that period involves showing children in leg braces or wheelchairs, their miserable expressions suggesting a deep mourning for the quality of life they had forever lost.

Roughly 70 years later, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) has released a report, which includes a familiar warning that those who lived through the polio era will recognize: If children are not protected against COVID-19 through vaccination, it could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Although children rarely become severely ill due to COVID-19, the APA wrote that "there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects." This refers to the growing body of evidence that a wide range of physical and psychological issues can persist for COVID-19 sufferers long after the disease itself has supposedly passed. (Hence the term "long COVID.") Common physical symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath, joint pain, dizziness and loss of smell or taste. In terms of their mental health, patients with long COVID report feeling depressed, having brain fog, experiencing anxiety and having trouble with their memory.

This matters more than ever because, as the APA explained in their report (which will be released on Nov. 30), the number of children developing COVID-19 is on the rise. A staggering 141,905 child cases were added in the United States over the past week, an increase of 32 percent from the figure two weeks ago. That figure is also more than one-fourth of all new COVID-19 cases from the past week; at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, children comprised only three percent of confirmed cases.

Want more health and science stories in your inbox? Subscribe to Salon's weekly newsletter The Vulgar Scientist.

This also marks the 15th consecutive week in which the number of new child COVID-19 cases has exceeded 100,000. While the current peak is 252,000 new cases (for the week of Sept. 2), the ongoing figures remain "extremely high," according to the APA. Overall nearly 6.8 million American children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infections since Nov. 18. Despite this, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that roughly two-thirds of parents are either waiting to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19 or are outright refusing to do so.

Background Image

The Kaiser survey also made it clear that, while there are a number of variablesthat influence people who oppose the COVID-19 vaccines, the most common culprit is right-wing partisanship.

"Although COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased over time with majorities across partisan groups reporting being vaccinated, Republicans make up an increasingly disproportionate share of those who remain unvaccinated and political partisanship is a stronger predictor of whether someone is vaccinated than demographic factors such as age, race, level of education, or insurance status," KFF explained.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has lingered for longer and more severely than it would have if most of the population had gotten vaccinated, President Joe Biden announced a series of vaccine mandate in September that he hopes will begin to close the gap. In that speech he specifically blamed the ongoing problem on unvaccinated Americans, arguing that a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" had caused people to feel "frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans" who have access to free inoculations but refuse to get them."

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in children, doctors warn of lifelong side effects |

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system | Race | The Guardian

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system

"The shooting of a man who was ‘running while Black’ has prompted calls for racial justice in the US

Annie Polite, 87, leads a protest march outside the Glynn county courthouse during the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Annie Polite, 87, leads a protest march outside the Glynn county courthouse during the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Photograph: Stephen B Morton/AP

For many observers, the high-profile case of the three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was out jogging, revealed the racist ways the American legal system has been designed to treat Black people differently.

Arbery was killed in February 2020 in the coastal town of Satilla Shores, Georgia. None of the men involved were charged until eyewitness footage was made public months later, shortly before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, prompting widespread protests.

Three white men, Gregory McMichael, 67, his 35-year-old son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, pursued Arbery, claiming they suspected his involvement in a series of burglaries in the neighborhood. The McMichaels, both carrying firearms, attempted to corner Arbery in a roadway using their truck before the younger McMichael fired three times with a shotgun.

Key moments from the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial – video report
Key moments from the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial – video report

The men were charged with murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, counts to which they all pleaded not guilty.

A court has now found all three guilty of murder.

Here are some of the ways the trial touched on race and racism in the US, echoing America’s segregated past as well as modern-day prejudice.

Black people face danger for doing ordinary things

Arbery’s killing highlighted the dangers that Black Americans can face doing entirely ordinary things that white people can perceive as a threat. They can range from bird watching, to showing a house for sale to swimming.

Arbery, a former high school football standout, loved to run. On 23 February last year, he was unarmed and out jogging through his neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was tracked by the McMichaels and Bryan before being gunned down.

Relying on a defunct civil war-era law that deputizes citizens to police the movements of Black bodies and carry out citizen’s arrests of suspected criminals, the white men argued that they were acting in self-defense. And they believe they were legally justified in pursuing Arbery because they thought he matched the description of a burglary suspect.

Arbery’s death has reaffirmed a concern among many Black runners that they will be racially profiled or attacked while running in the United States. The multitude of racist experiences of “running while Black” has prompted runners to take precautionary measures such as wearing bright colors to appear non-threatening and running during daylight hours.

Yet Arbery’s white T-shirt, his habit of waving at some neighbors as he passed, and his decision to go jogging in the middle of the day did not protect him.

A reluctance to prosecute

In the weeks and months after Arbery’s killing, Glynn county law enforcement officials either ignored the case or failed to thoroughly investigate his death. In one instance, a district attorney refused to allow police officers to make arrests.

Jackie Johnson, the Glynn county district attorney, barred police officers who responded to the shooting from arresting the McMichaels, saying that Greg McMichael had worked as an investigator in her office for 20 years before retiring in 2019.

“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them,” Allen Booker, the Glynn county district 5 commissioner, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”

Johnson recused herself from the case four days after Arbery’s killing.

George Barnhill, the Waycross district attorney, took over. Less than 24 hours after seeing the video and evidence compiled by the police, Barnhill decided not to charge the McMichaels, citing insufficient evidence, according to Glynn county commissioner Peter Murphy.

On 2 April, Barnhill emailed law enforcement authorities, saying “Arbery’s mental health records and prior convictions help explain his apparent aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man.”

Less than a week later, Barnhill recused himself because his son worked on a case involving Arbery while working in Johnson’s office. The connection was only discovered when Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s mother, found the link between Barnhill’s son and her own on Facebook and raised it with his office.

Tom Durden, the district attorney in nearby Hinesville then took the case on 13 April, making little progress for more than three weeks until the graphic video of Arbery’s killing emerged on 5 May. The video prompted swift outcry and Durden notified the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The McMichaels were arrested two days later and on 11 May, the Cobb county district attorney and the case’s fourth prosecutor, Joyette M Holmes, took over the case. Holmes is one of only seven black district attorneys in Georgia.

In September, Johnson was indicted on charges of misconduct for allegedly using her position to protect the McMichaels. 

According to evidence introduced in pre-trial hearings, Greg called Johnson soon after the shooting and left her a voicemail, saying, “Jackie this is Greg. Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right now.”

An almost all-white jury

In November, a nearly all-white jury was selected after defense attorneys eliminated almost all Black jurors from the pool.

Throughout a jury selection period that lasted 11 days, lawyers were given a pool of 48 potential jurors, 12 of whom were Black. However, defense lawyers struck all but one of them from the final jury, leaving 11 white members and one Black member.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough previously said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the case’s jury selection pool lacked “bubbas or Joe six-packs”, referring to white men over 40 without a college degree.

Prosecutors urged Judge Timothy Walmsley to reverse the unseating of eight Black potential jurors, whom they argue had been deliberately targeted over race. Despite Walmsley’s acknowledgment of the “intentional discrimination”, he said he was limited by the supreme court precedent and said that the defense presented justifiable reasons to strike the Black potential jurors that were unrelated to race.

Attacking civil rights leaders

Gough also tried unsuccessfully to remove prominent civil rights leaders and Black pastors, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, from the courtroom, arguing that their presence was intimidating and could influence the jury.

Gough told the judge, “We don’t want any more Black pastors in here” and later in the trial compared his clients’ treatment to a “public lynching” in language that seemed designed to provoke racial tensions.

During a prayer vigil held outside the Glynn county courthouse earlier this month by Sharpton, Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Arbery family, stressed the acute need for racial justice for Black communities.

“What happens here in Brunswick, Georgia, in the trial in the killers of Ahmaud Arbery, is going to be a proclamation not only to Georgia, not only to America, but to the world, how far we have come to get equal justice in America for marginalized Black people,” he said."

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system | Race | The Guardian

Analysis: Travis McMichael Guilty On All Counts, Split Verdict For Greg McMichael, William Bryan

Under Georgia law, without a successful appeal, all three men are facing life in prison. They still face federal hate crime charges.

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid | Asteroids | The Guardian

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid

"Spacecraft heads off on 6.8m-mile journey to crash into moonlet Dimorphos in test to see if asteroids can be diverted from collision with Earth

Nasa video shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or Dart, spacecraft onboard, on a collision course with moonlet Dimorphos.
Nasa animation shows how spacecraft could deflect asteroid – video

A spacecraft that must ultimately crash in order to succeed lifted off late on Tuesday from California on a Nasa mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defence system.

Carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket, the Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft soared into the sky at 10.21pm Pacific time from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base, about 150 miles (240km) north-west of Los Angeles.

The plan is to crash the robot spacecraft into the moonlet Dimorphos at 15,000mph (24,100km/h) and change its path by a fraction. If the mission is successful, it will mean that Nasa and other space agencies could deflect an asteroid heading towards Earth and avert an Armageddon-style impact.

The Dart payload, about the size of a small car, was released from the booster minutes after launch to begin its 10-month journey into deep space, some 6.8 million miles (11 km) from Earth.

Once there Dart will test its ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force. Cameras mounted on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft to be released from Dart about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images of it back to Earth.

The asteroid being targeted by Dart poses no actual threat and is tiny compared with the cataclysmic Chicxulub asteroid that struck Earth 66m years ago, leading to extinction of the dinosaurs. But scientists say smaller asteroids are far more common and pose a greater theoretical danger in the near term.

The team behind Dart chose the Didymos system because its relative proximity to Earth and dual-asteroid configuration make it ideal for observing the results of the impact.

The blast-off was shown live on Nasa TV and on the SpaceX Twitter account.

It is the latest of several Nasa missions in recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system’s formation 4.6bn years ago.

Last month, Nasa launched a probe on a voyage to the Trojan asteroid clusters orbiting near Jupiter, while the grab-and-go spacecraft Osires-Rex is on its way back to Earth with a sample collected in October last year from the asteroid Bennu.

The Dimorphos moonlet is one of the smallest astronomical objects to receive a permanent name and is one of 27,500 known near-Earth asteroids of all sizes tracked by Nasa.

Nasa has put the entire cost of the Dart project at $330m, well below that of many of the space agency’s most ambitious science missions."

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid | Asteroids | The Guardian

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Historian Explains What We’re Missing About White Supremacy | The Mehdi ...

Why Ethiopia’s president is fed up with European provocateurs.

The Star-Spangled Banner’s racist lyrics kept it from becoming the national anthem for a century - The Washington Post. This is the American history Republicans don't want taught in school


The ugly reason ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ didn’t become our national anthem for a century

Children play last month under a reproduction of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 in Baltimore. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

"The mission was successful; British commanders agreed to free the doctor. But while on the ship, the man — a 35-year-old lawyer named Francis Scott Key — overheard plans for a surprise attack on Baltimore. He and the doctor would not be allowed to leave until the attack was over.

That’s how Key ended up witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry while aboard a British ship. He couldn’t tell from his vantage point who had won or lost. But at dawn, he saw the American flag, 15 stars and 15 stripes at the time, still waving over the fort and was inspired to write a poem. Soon, it was set to the tune of an existing song.

That’s the short version of how “The Star-Spangled Banner” came to be.

The longer version — of both the song and the story of the man who wrote it — reveals not only why it has become controversial now, in this season of racial reckoning, football and presidential campaigning, but why it was too controversial to become the national anthem for more than a century after it was written.

First, a few things to know about the War of 1812: One of the main issues was the British practice of impressment — the forced conscription of American sailors to fight for the Royal Navy. Plus, the British promised refuge to any enslaved Black people who escaped their enslavers, raising fears among White Americans of a large-scale revolt. The final provocation was that men who escaped their bonds of slavery were welcome to join the British Corps of Colonial Marines in exchange for land after their service. As many as 4,000 people, mostly from Virginia and Maryland, escaped.

It’s important to know these things because “The Star-Spangled Banner,” originally called “The Defense of Fort M’Henry,” has more than one verse. The second half of the third verse ends like this:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave 

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

These lyrics are a clear reference to the Colonial Marines, according to Jefferson Morley, author of “Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.” They are clearly meant to scorn and threaten the African Americans who took the British up on their offer, he wrote in a recent essay for The Washington Post. Key surely knew about the Colonial Marines, and it’s even possible he saw them among the contingent of British ships that sailed into Baltimore Harbor.

But Mark Clague, a musicologist at the University of Michigan and an expert on the anthem, disagrees. In 2016, he told the New York Times: “The reference to slaves is about the use, and in some sense the manipulation, of Black Americans to fight for the British, with the promise of freedom.” He also noted that Black people fought on the American side of the war as well.

Whether manipulation or not, the British kept their word to Colonial Marines after the war, refusing the United States’ demand that they be returned and providing them land in Trinidad and Tobago to resettle with their families. Their descendants, called “Merikins,” still live there today.

And even if these lyrics aren’t meant to be explicitly racist, Key clearly was. He descended from a wealthy plantation family and enslaved people. He spoke of Black people as “a distinct and inferior race” and supported emancipating the enslaved only if they were immediately shipped to Africa, according to Morley.

During the Andrew Jackson administration, Key served as the district attorney for Washington, D.C., where he spent much of his time shoring up enslavers’ power. He strictly enforced slave laws and prosecuted abolitionists who passed out pamphlets mocking his jurisdiction as the “land of the free, home of the oppressed.”

He also influenced Jackson to appoint his brother-in-law chief justice of the United States. You may have heard of him; Roger B. Taney is infamous for writing the Dred Scott decision that decreed Black people “had no rights which the White man was bound to respect.” A statue of Taney and a school named after Key have been recent subjects of scrutiny during the protests following the police killing of George Floyd.

Although “The Star-Spangled Banner” and all of its verses were immediately famous, Key’s overt racism prevented it from becoming the national anthem while he was alive, Morley wrote. There was no official anthem, and many people chose to sing other songs, like “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

Key’s anthem gained popularity over time, particularly among post-Reconstruction White Southerners and the military. In the early 20th Century, all but the first verse were cut — not for their racism, but for their anti-British bent. The United Kingdom was by then an ally.

After the misery of World War I, the lyrics were again controversial for their violence. But groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy fought back, pushing for the song to be made the official national anthem. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover made it so.

“The elevation of the banner from popular song to official national anthem was a neo-Confederate political victory, and it was celebrated as such,” Morley wrote. “When supporters threw a victory parade in Baltimore in June 1931, the march was led by a color guard hoisting the Confederate flag.

Protesters toppled the statue of Francis Scott Key, the national anthem lyricist and a slave owner, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on June 19. (Cam Urban via Storyful)"

The Star-Spangled Banner’s racist lyrics kept it from becoming the national anthem for a century - The Washington Post

Republican CRUMBLES over simple question about Trump in surreal interview

No jail time for man charged with rape & sexual assault of four victims (This is White privileged)

The Assassination of Malcolm X: Ex-Undercover Officer Admits Role in FBI...

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Who Killed Malcolm X? Two Men Are Exonerated as Manhattan DA Reveals Details of FBI Cover-Up | Democracy Now!


Jurors in the Rittenhouse case watch video but that won't prevent bias : NPR

The Rittenhouse jurors watch video, but that can't be counted on to prevent bias

Kyle Rittenhouse listens as Judge Bruce Schroeder talks about how the jury will view video during deliberations in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Wednesday in Kenosha, Wisc.

Sean Krajacic/Getty Images

"Ideally, the 12 men and women who serve as the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial would base their final judgement solely on the evidence and testimony presented to them. 

But humans don't necessarily work that way. 

According to psychologists who spoke with NPR, jurors come into the courtroom with their own belief systems, experiences and identities, which all factor into how they decide on a verdict — or even what they see in a video. 

"Jurors are not clean slates when they enter the courtroom," said Alexa Bankert, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Georgia. She studies the development and consequences of partisan identities. "They are people with personal and political beliefs and values, including ideology and partisanship."

For example, the racial makeup of a jury has been proven to have an impact on a case's outcome. 

On Friday morning, the Rittenhouse jurors will meet for a fourth time to deliberate. They are tasked with deciding whether he acted in self-defense or whether he acted recklessly last year when he killed two protesters and wounded another in Kenosha, Wis.

Article continues after sponsor message

Video evidence is not all it's cracked up to be

As part of the Rittenhouse trial, jurors must review several pieces of video footage.

On the second day of deliberations, the jury requested to re-watch portions of the 10 hours of videos shown over the two-week long trial. They had specifically requested, and were granted permission, to see videos taken by Gaige Grosskreutz, the man Rittenhouse shot and wounded. 

For video evidence in trial, it turns out what you see is complicated. 

Mark Richards, Kyle Rittenhouse's lead attorney, gives his closing argument during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Nov. 15, 2021.

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP

Along with her research team, Emily Balcetis, an associate professor of psychology at New York University, studies biases in how people look at video evidence. 

She said even when people look at the same photo or video, they come away with their own conclusions.

Balcetis and her research team showed people video evidence depicting two men engaged in a physical altercation. They used hidden, eye-tracking technology to record where viewers looked. 

"We discovered some people looked more at one of the men than the other," she said. 

This was an important development. It was evidence of how those viewers connected with one of the men in the fight with the other, she said. That connection altered how those viewers saw what was on the video. 

"People who already sided with, or felt connected to, one of the defendants misremembered what he did in ways that incriminated him," Balcetis said. "They thought he was more aggressive and wrongly believed he used unwarranted force. And this happened the more they focused their visual attention on him."

Viewers can fill the gaps with their own narrative 

Viewing the video evidence again doesn't necessarily mean the Rittenhouse trial jurors came away with a better understanding of what happened, Balcetis said. 

"You might think that the more you look at evidence, the better you'll understand what happened. But our research finds that that is not true," she said. "Our eyes can only focus on, and process the details of a very small portion of what we actually are looking at."

Activists calling for the conviction of Kyle Rittenhouse watch the trial on a phone in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse verdict on Wednesday in Kenosha, Wisc.

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

That means when someone is watching one person in "a complex social scene" — like a fight — they are missing what the other person is doing even though it's visible, she said. So, to fill the gaps, the viewer constructs a narrative to help understand what is happening. 

"Because we actually have seen the evidence with our very own eyes, we are confident that what we believe is true and right," Balcetis said. "We're even more certain that what we think happened is actually what happened because we saw it for ourselves. We don't realize that we only saw about half of the story."

She continued, "Even when we look again, we don't always compensate for what we missed the first time around."

None of this research is meant to excuse any one person from bearing responsibility for their actions, Balcetis notes. 

It's "instead meant to help explain why any two people can watch the same video evidence and come to form such very different interpretations of what happened," she said. 

Political ideology is a big factor on perception

Race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age can all have a factor in how a person perceives the world. Other aspects such as immigration status, prior experience with discrimination, education, and even parenthood can alter how people view things, too. 

This is part of why consulting to advise lawyers on jury selection is a big industry, said Christopher Federico, a professor of political science and psychology at the University of Minnesota. 

"We are motivated to see the world in ways that reinforce whatever our prior attitudes and beliefs are," Federico said.

A supporter of Kyle Rittenhouse (left) argues with an activist in favor of conviction (right) in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse while the jury deliberates the Rittenhouse trial on Wednesday in Kenosha, Wisc.

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Political ideology tends to make that a bit worse, according to Bankert, with the University of Georgia. 

If people view the same videos of police violence against people of color, their political beliefs can strongly influence how that video is interpreted, she said.

"So in the case of Rittenhouse, a Democrat might see racially motivated murder while a Republican might see self-defense," Bankert said. 

"We see this kind of partisan motivated reasoning especially for those who strongly identify with either the Democratic or the Republican Party," she said, "especially for cultural issues that are highly salient in the national debate such as racial justice but also reproductive rights and the rights of LGBTQ+."

People who are less attentive to politics tend to show weaker political biases in how they evaluate evidence, Federico said. 

And some forms of evidence are harder to shape to our will, he said. "If the evidence is fairly unambiguous, it is harder for people to bend their views of it in a congenial direction."

Working around biases is possible

Just being reminded of the existence of biases and taking more time to think deliberatively can help, Federico said. 

Bankert suggested people also take time to gain a new perspective: "In the case of partisanship, recent work has shown that embedding people in groups that include partisans from the opposing party can help them engage in less biased reasoning." 

The jury box is empty in the ceremonial courtroom as the jury continues deliberations in private in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Wednesday.

Sean Krajacic/Getty Images

And juries are a form of that. Balcetis and her team told research participants to closely watch a person on video that they might not have normally paid much attention to. Just by doing this, they gained a different understanding of what happened. 

"By intentionally looking at the video evidence and working to see what we don't see naturally," she said, "people can gain a new perspective on what happened and even perhaps change their opinion about who was in the right and who was in the wrong."

Jurors in the Rittenhouse case watch video but that won't prevent bias : NPR