Clyburn renews calls to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge for John Lewis

Rep. Jim Clyburn called for the Edmund Pettus Bridge to be renamed for John Lewis, the late civil rights icon who was marching during “Bloody Sunday” when peaceful demonstrators were beaten there by Alabama state troopers in 1965.

“Edmund Pettus was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Take his name off that bridge and replace it with a good man, John Lewis, the personification of the goodness of America, rather than to honor someone who disrespected individual freedoms,” Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” to be broadcast in full Sunday.

Lewis, who died Friday after a battle with cancer, had his skull fractured by police in Selma, while leading marchers across the bridge toward Montgomery. The state troopers assailed the demonstrators with tear gas and clubs after the march leaders stopped to pray.

Images of the peaceful demonstrators, including Lewis, being beaten by police circulated widely in the days and weeks following the events and still resonate today.

Lewis, who later served more than three decades in the House, had returned to the bridge annually to reenact the march with fellow lawmakers and community leaders.

The call from Clyburn, the House majority whip and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, adds momentum to long-standing efforts to rename the bridge. Pettus, its namesake, was a Confederate brigadier general and U.S. senator before becoming the grand dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.

The renewed push comes as the debate over monuments to the Confederacy amplifies in the wake of nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

“I think they will take a nice picture of that bridge with Pettus’ name on it, put it in a museum somewhere, dedicate it to the Confederacy, and then rename that bridge, and repaint it — redecorate it — the John R. Lewis Bridge,” Clyburn added. “I believe that will give the people of Selma something to rally around.”

Source: Politico, Clyburn renews calls to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge for John Lewis

[Q #4592] D's Are the Great Deceivers Controlled by Foreign Anti-American Powers

When was the last time you witnessed a [D] party leader being Patriotic [exhibiting National Pride (love of Country)]?
When was the last time you witnessed a [D] party leader ‘speak out against’ the riots [violence in the streets]?
[MSDNC projecting ‘peaceful’ protests?]
When was the last time you witnessed a [D] party leader support those who took at oath to protect and defend?
When was the last time you witnessed a [D] party leader support and call for UNITY across our Nation?
Why do they want people divided?
Why do they want people categorized?
The Great [D]eceivers.

Source: Q Posts, [Q #4592] D’s Are the Great Deceivers Controlled by Foreign Anti-American Powers

Presidents, politicians and civil rights leaders pay tribute to John Lewis

Soon after Rep. John Lewis’ passing, politicians and civil rights leaders publicly paid tribute to his extraordinary life, sharing memories, photos and quotes that evoked the spirit of the longtime congressman who was often referred to in Washington as “the conscience of the Congress.”

Here are some of their thoughts:

President Donald Trump: “Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”

Former President Barack Obama: “I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders.”

“Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.”

Former President George Bush: “As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope. And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union. America can best honor John’s memory by continuing his journey toward liberty and justice for all.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We have lost a giant. John Lewis gave all he had to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together.”

“Always true to his word, his faith, and his principles, John Lewis became the conscience of the nation.”

Former President Jimmy Carter: “Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude.”

Vice President Mike Pence: “Congressman John Lewis was a great man whose courage and decades of public service changed America forever, and he will be deeply missed. John Lewis will be remembered as a giant of the civil rights movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union and his example will inspire generations of Americans.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden: “We are made in the image of God, and then there is John Lewis. He was truly one-of-a-kind, a moral compass who always knew where to point us and which direction to march. To John’s family, friends, staff, and constituents, Jill and I send you our love and prayers.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson: “John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like. He sacrificed and personifies a New Testament prophet. Good Night, I will see you in the morning. #GoodTrouble”

Former NAACP President Cornell William Brooks: #JohnLewis ‘ death raises 1 QUESTION. It’s hard to grieve the death of anyone we admire, but HOW do we mourn the LIFE of someone every American should emulate? As a young man he risked his life in protest, as an older man he gave his life in public service. Go and do likewise.”

Evangelist Franklin Graham: “Our deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of Rep. John Lewis, former leading civil rights activist and congressman, who passed away last night.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “The most humble of heroes, the most brave of giants. @repjohnlewis loved unconditionally and called upon us all to be a better version of ourselves. He was my Congressman and my best example of true servant leadership. I am grateful for his life and the joy of having known him.”

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams: “God has welcomed @repjohnlewis home. Defender of justice. Champion of right. Our conscience, he was a griot of this modern age, one who saw its hatred but fought ever towards the light. And never once did he begrudge sharing its beauty. I loved him & will miss him.”

Georgia Sen. David Perdue: “No one embodied the word ‘courage’ better than John Lewis. As a civil rights icon, John inspired millions of Americans to fight injustice and reject the status quo. Without a doubt, his wisdom and resolve made the world a better place.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris: “John Lewis was an icon who fought with every ounce of his being to advance the cause of civil rights for all Americans. I’m devastated for his family, friends, staff—and all those whose lives he touched. My friend, thank you for showing the world what #GoodTrouble looks like.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp: “Our nation will never be the same without him. There are no words to adequately express the sadness that countless Americans are feeling upon learning this news. John Lewis changed our world in profound and immeasurable ways.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey: “Our country has lost one of its most beloved Civil Rights leaders. I join my fellow Alabamians & the nation in mourning the death of Rep. John Lewis. He dedicated his life to serving his community & advocating for others. We’ll forever remember his heroism & his enduring legacy.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “John Lewis was one of the greatest men this country has ever known – a man of unimpeachable integrity, wisdom, courage, and morality. He was our conscience. And I know I speak for the entire family of New York when I say we are devastated by this loss. #GoodTrouble”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy: “Our nation and world mourn the passing of a true American icon – Congressman John Lewis. I mourn the passing of a role model. In our sorrow, let us commit to carrying on his work, and building upon the tremendous legacy which is his lasting gift to us all.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry: “John Lewis’ unwavering sense of justice and unique, quiet determination to always act on conscience made him a walking inspiration wherever he went. It was a privilege of a lifetime to know him. There’s no better example to all who want to know what citizenship and courage means.”

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates: “Lewis dedicated his life to fearlessly holding our country to its promise of equal justice.We can honor his legacy by answering his call.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power: “No one more courageous and clear-eyed has walked among us. Thank you John Lewis.”

Source: Politico, Presidents, politicians and civil rights leaders pay tribute to John Lewis

U.S., Canada and Britain Say Russia ‘Hacking’ COVID-19 Research

Covid-19 Vaccine


estern countries such as Britain, the United States, and Canada banned together today to accuse “Russian hackers” of “trying to steal information from researchers seeking a coronavirus vaccine,” reported the Associated Press. Countries warned scientists and pharmaceutical researchers to “be alert for suspicious activity.”

The AP reports the intelligence agencies of the three nations concluded a hacking group known as “Cozy Bear” purported to be part of Russian intelligence, “is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in COVID-19 vaccine development.” It’s no surprise that Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied accusations saying, “we don’t have information about who may have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centers in Britain.” Peskov went a step further, demanding “We may say one thing: Russia has nothing to do with those attempts.”

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Russia of “reckless behavior.” Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre also made a statement, saying Russia’s attacks are seen as a campaign of “malicious activity” which has been ongoing and “predominantly against government, diplomatic, think tank, health care and energy targets.” In a 16-page “advisory prepared by Western agencies accuses Cozy Bear of using custom malicious software to target a number of organizations globally” reported AP.

Although the malware, WellMess and WellMail had not previously been associated with the hacking group, the advisory stated, “in recent attacks targeting COVID-19 vaccine research and development, the group conducted basic vulnerability scanning against specific external IP addresses owned by the organizations. The group then deployed public exploits against the vulnerable services identified.”

Britain’s Cyber Security Centre said its information was shared by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency, and by the Canadian Communication Security Establishment. “The move at a coordinated position seemed designed to add heft and gravity to the announcement – hopefully prompting the targets of the hackers to take protective action” reported the AP.

Information technology expert at the University of Notre Dame, Mike Chapple, said “the biggest takeaway from these attacks is that other countries are actively targeting the health research industry and we’re seeing the pharmaceutical companies and others being targeted because they have the information that can be used to help alleviate this global pandemic.” Also, “it’s reasonable to conclude that the coronavirus is the No. 1 priority of every intelligence agency around the world right now” said Chapple.

The post U.S., Canada and Britain Say Russia ‘Hacking’ COVID-19 Research appeared first on Gregg Jarrett.

Source: Gregg Jarrett, U.S., Canada and Britain Say Russia ‘Hacking’ COVID-19 Research

How Larry Hogan Kept Blacks in Baltimore Segregated and Poor

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the term “structural racism” has moved from the academic world into the public conversation — a shorthand way to talk about why Black Americans can do everything right and still find themselves with less income and wealth than white Americans of similar education, consigned to live in poorer neighborhoods, with fewer opportunities, more repressive policing and worse life outcomes.

If the idea still sounds abstract to policymakers in Washington, they don’t have to look far to observe its realities. They can just drive an hour north, to Baltimore — and see what is not there.

Sorely missing is a long-planned east-west transit route that would connect isolated Black Baltimore neighborhoods to downtown and suburban job centers and to other rail lines. In 2014, the Obama administration offered Maryland a selective “New Starts” grant of $900 million to finally build what was called the Red Line — a project that would not only have connected thousands of Black Marylanders to better jobs but would also create a comprehensive transit system that might restart the Baltimore region’s economy and improve race relations by building literal connections between communities.

Today, there’s no construction of rail in Baltimore. The $900 million has been returned to the federal government. The state of Maryland redirected $736 million of state funds originally set aside for the Red Line to building roads instead — in predominantly white areas. And the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was supposed to investigate whether that decision was illegal and discriminatory, quietly closed the case without making any public findings.

Transportation investment and disinvestment have been central in Baltimore’s long saga of racial segregation and inequity, and the Red Line was the most recent chapter. Since Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line in 2015, it has become a rallying cry for transit and racial-justice activists in Baltimore and beyond.

But the full extent of the injustice is just coming to light. Material obtained by a legal clinic I worked with at Georgetown Law School, through Maryland’s freedom-of-information statute, shows that federal officials acknowledged the potential racial impact of the decision to cancel the Red Line and the possibility that the decision violated civil rights law — and then for unclear reasons, dropped their investigation.

It was Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line. To give an idea of how insidious structural racism can be, as a matter of politics, consider that Hogan is considered one of the “good guys” among national Republican governors. He has a high approval rating in a blue state and is considering running for president in 2024. Hogan is also a Trump critic who advocates for a bigger-tent GOP that is “inclusive” and avoids “divisive rhetoric.”

But his budgetary treatment of Baltimore tells a very different story — one that is woven deeply into decades of discriminatory American policy.

In 1965, urban planners mapped routes for six rapid-transit lines that would radiate from downtown Baltimore to the suburban edges. But white suburbanites massively resisted both transit and open housing policies that would enable Blacks to move to their neighborhoods. As a result, Baltimore County grew whiter and Baltimore city blacker and more isolated from jobs and amenities. Plans for a comprehensive rail system remained a paper dream and only two transit lines were built.

A 1968 map of the Baltimore metropolitan area's proposed rapid-transit lines following an intensive federally funded study.

What got built and where is telling. One of the lines is a light-rail route that largely serves whites in the northern reaches of the city and suburbs who wish to travel south to Baltimore’s tourist-centered Inner Harbor and the retro-style Camden Yards baseball stadium; it continues south to the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The other is a subway line that runs 15 miles northwest from Baltimore to Owings Mill though the line stops well short of that suburb’s signature town center and shopping mall, rendering it not entirely effective for commuters. These two lines do not even connect to each other.

In 2002, Gov. Parris Glendening, an advocate of so-called smart growth which integrates transit and housing development, supported new planning for what would be called the Red Line. (The name is ironic for a proposed corridor in which the majority of residents are Black Americans living in historically segregated and “redlined” neighborhoods.)

The proposed 14-mile line included a 3.4-mile tunnel that would have allowed riders to glide under congested downtown streets where cars crawl at less than 12 mph at peak periods. Planners also proposed stops connecting to Amtrak and the regional MARC train routes, to create a comprehensive rail system. Baltimore was more than a century overdue for racial healing and the city was going to be united, at least physically, through transit.

The planning process did begin to repair trust and relations between the city and its Black neighborhoods and between those neighborhoods and predominantly white ones. Dozens of individuals, organizations and state and local government officials signed the Red Line Community Compact — a blueprint for ensuring that Baltimore residents and businesses participated in construction, that the Red Line improved the environment, and citizens had a voice in fostering community-centered development.

West Baltimore communities denuded of commerce were rezoned for mixed uses, anticipating new economic and civic activity around each station. Each proposed station had an advisory committee to help shape their neighborhood’s renewal. Edmondson-Westside High School, for example, was going to train local adults and students to enter jobs in construction, maintenance and transit operations. One elder advocated for new trees to beautify their station. Citizens planted many ideas — the kind of civic roots, if allowed to grow, that might discourage violence in poor neighborhoods.

By 2015, all the needed planning, engineering, environmental and health impact assessments, financing and political compromise for the Red Line route had been completed. The state of Maryland had spent $288 million on planning and right-of-way acquisitions. The Maryland General Assembly had approved a gas-tax increase to fund the project and the state had committed to pay $1.2 billion from the State Transportation Trust Fund for the state’s share of construction costs. Maryland had applied for and won the $900 million “New Starts” grant from the federal government. Construction was set to begin later in 2015.

In Jan. 2015, Gov. Hogan took office. Less than six months later, in June 2015, he announced that the Red Line was canceled.

Hogan at his Jan. 2015 gubernatorial inauguration.

Hogan, founder of an eponymous commercial real estate business, was an established skeptic of transit rail, which he deemed too expensive, and a believer in highway asphalt. In his first bid for governor, he argued against light rail — which opposing suburbanites sometimes derided as “loot rail” — and strenuously advocated for roads. Rail, no; roads, yes — polar positions that helped to defeat Black Democrat, Anthony Brown.

As governor, Hogan’s decision to reallocate funds away from the Red Line came two months after the uprisings in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray after mistreatment by Baltimore police officers. The violence had put Baltimore at the center of national debates and protests about anti-Black policing and disinvestment in Black neighborhoods. But Hogan called those who vandalized “thugs,” and complained aloud about the $20 million the state had to spend in response to the protests. He all but used this extra cost to further justify canceling the Red Line.

Hogan dismissed the project as “a wasteful boondoggle” and defended rescinding it because he “oppose[d] wasteful and irresponsible spending on poorly conceived projects.” The planned 3.4-mile tunnel provoked him the most. He viewed it as a costly indulgence, even though running the Red Line under the worst of Baltimore traffic in order to facilitate “rapid” transit was a central feature of a system designed to dramatically reduce commute times and ease downtown congestion for everyone.

He returned the $900 million selective federal grant for the project and reallocated all of the state money that had been earmarked for the Red Line’s first construction phase — $736 million — to road projects in exurban and rural areas. In the end, not a single road or pothole in Baltimore would be paved with the money that had been set aside for the Red Line.

Yet not all light rail got the ax. Hogan did not cancel the Purple Line, which will open in 2022 and run through Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in wealthier suburbs of Washington and connect to D.C.’s Metro subway system.

A map of Maryland's proposed Purple Line, shown here connecting with the Metro system of Washington D.C. in the suburbs north of the city.

The Purple Line and Hogan’s other budgetary priorities at the time of the Red Line cancellation suggest a pattern of favoring white communities over Black communities in the allocation of public funds. Upon taking office he declared that Baltimore was “declining rather than improving,” and cut $36 million from its schools budget, but approved $30 million to build a youth jail in the city — a breathtaking message signaling what Hogan thought of the city and its youth.

Hogan also cut or lowered tolls on suburban highways and bridges while Baltimoreans endured fare increases on buses, rail and commuter lines. He supported expensive road projects of dubious necessity in sparsely populated rural areas while not scheduling needed road projects for Baltimore.

For Black Baltimoreans and allies watching, the pattern of investing public funds in white areas and disinvesting from Black neighborhoods could not have been more obvious.

The racial injustice of these decisions mobilized civil rights groups. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint with the federal Department of Transportation, arguing that whites received a 228 percent net increase in benefits from the Red Line cancellation and reallocation while Black Americans lost benefits at minus 124 percent and that this racial disparity violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VI is a key provision in U.S. civil rights law, one that holds decision-makers accountable for the effects of their decisions, not just their avowed rationale. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance and prohibited racial discrimination may be intentional or unintentional. Most critically, the result of allegedly neutral practices can have a “disparate impact” on a racial group, and Title VI, as implemented in federal regulations, renders that illegal.

The iconic distressed neighborhoods of East and West Baltimore along the proposed corridor of the Red Line, on average, were 80 percent Black, 30 percent poor and 65 percent female-headed. Forty-four percent of residents along the planned corridor did not own a car. Fewer than 2 percent of jobs in Baltimore are located in Black neighborhoods along the proposed Red Line corridor. For carless residents of those neighborhoods, without the Red Line, commuting to the job-rich parts of the Baltimore region is a nightmare.

In this March 20, 2018 photo, student Imani Holt walks to a bus stop after school at Excel Academy in Baltimore.

The lives of carless single Black mothers who needed to get children to school and themselves to work were made incredibly difficult by a maddeningly slow MTA bus system in which a 20-minute car commute would stretch to 90 minutes on the bus. With the Red Line canceled, they lost the opportunity for nearly halving their commute times, for gaining a projected 10,000 new jobs in Baltimore that Black residents might apply for, and for spurring renewal and transit-oriented development in chronically disinvested Black neighborhoods. Lost, too, was the possibility of reducing air pollution for the city with the poorest air quality and highest rates of pediatric asthma in the state.

The Obama administration’s Department of Transportation opened an investigation on the assertions that appear in the Legal Defense Fund’s complaint and a similar one filed by Baltimore transit activists. But the Trump administration closed the investigation without making any findings. In lieu of an investigation of the joined complaints, it said it would conduct a comprehensive review of Maryland’s transportation programs for compliance with Title VI.

The Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic sought to find out whether the Transportation Department followed through with that investigation. In January of this year, the Clinic filed freedom of information statutory requests with both the Maryland Department of Transportation and the federal Transportation Department. The Trump administration has yet to release any material in response to the Freedom of Information Act request, citing the Covid-19 pandemic for the delay, but this spring, MDOT disclosed a trove of documents and emails that my dedicated research assistant and I recently perused.

Most telling were email communications between U.S. and Maryland officials in 2018. Federal officials had opened a “Corrective Action” and informed MDOT that it had to conduct a comprehensive Title VI analysis of its transportation spending. They rejected MDOT’s initial response, saying it had “simply provided a conclusion that disparate impacts did not exist,” which was insufficient evidence of compliance with Title VI. MDOT tried again; in a subsequent email it claimed that there was no disparate impact violation because “large amounts of both State and federal funded investments in transit and other transportation modes closely correlated with the Census tracts with higher minority population.”

In its answer, MDOT did not quantify what these “large amounts” were, for what projects or which minority communities allegedly benefited. It referred to funding formulas and maps provided in its previous, rejected explanation and offered a link to a previously published 565-page consolidated report that catalogued where transportation funds were allocated in given years. Those reports do not mention race at all. They were not designed to, and did not, assess racial equity.

Perhaps it is true, as MDOT claimed in its emails, that “minority” census tracts were near road projects in outlying areas and ostensibly benefited from those road investments and that the Washington and Baltimore regions, where many “minorities” live, received “large amounts” of transportation funds. It is also possible the alleged “large amounts” do not make up the difference from the cancellation of the Red Line. But we don’t know, because the Trump administration officials accepted MDOT’s answer at face value and closed the corrective action without any explanation of its reasoning.

In other words, the Trump and Hogan administrations never gave a considered response to the Title VI petitioners’ core claim: that in canceling the Red Line and reallocating its funds to other projects, Hogan and Maryland favored white areas to the detriment of Black citizens. The citizens and communities that toiled for more than a decade planning the Red Line, building trust and a multiracial coalition for renewal, deserved a published, reasoned answer that could be reviewed by a federal court to determine if the agency’s logic was arbitrary or evaded the demands of Title VI. There was no opportunity, in short, for any public accountability.

Two years after rescinding the Red Line, Hogan did offer Baltimore a consolation project, $135 million for BaltimoreLink, an ostensibly revamped bus system. It was hardly a substitute, though, for the $2.9 billion unified rail system that was first envisioned in 1965. Though Hogan claimed the new bus system would be “transformative,” angry riders complained that commutes worsened as bus lines were eliminated.

Baltimore's iconic row houses sit behind a man waiting at a bus stop. In the distance, the downtown skyline looms.

The same year Hogan canceled the Red Line, Baltimore ranked last in the nation on Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s rankings for social mobility of poor children.

This is what structural racism looks like and it is a product of public policy. For decades, governments have spent public funds disproportionately on white communities, particularly those that have more than enough, while excluding Black communities and Black people from government investments — in mortgages, education, infrastructure and other services.

One epochal example that shaped segregation in the Baltimore region and everywhere else African Americans in the Great Migration landed: The Federal Housing Administration invented the 30-year mortgage to bring homeownership to the white masses. Under this New Deal policy created by Democrats, from 1934 to 1962 whites received 98 percent of government-insured loans. Blacks were intentionally cut out of America’s signature wealth-building policy and the suburban American dream. This explains why today, for every dollar of wealth held by a typical white family, a typical black family holds 8 cents.

After a century of redlining, urban “Negro Removal,” intentionally concentrating poor Black Americans in segregated housing, disinvestment, foreclosures and predation, without an insistent effort to disrupt a legacy of plunder, the modern descendants of slavery in Baltimore cannot thrive. Black Democrats are not immune to the zero-sum politics of segregation. Despite being governed by a series of Black mayors, a recent equity analysis revealed that Baltimore neighborhoods that are less than half Black received nearly four times more the investment than neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly Black.
Education is supposed to be a ladder of social mobility, but education remains separate and unequal in America. Hogan recently vetoed a bill known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future that would have been a down payment on recommendations to transform Maryland public education from mediocre to world-class — recommendations from a commission, known as the Kirwan Commission, that Hogan himself helped set up.

According to Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services, Baltimore City Schools are underfunded by $342 million annually, causing Charm City’s children to endure among the highest student-to-teacher ratios in the state. All told, the Kirwan Commission’s proposals, after a 10-year phase-in, were estimated to cost $4 billion annually. Last year, Hogan condemned the Kirwan proposals, dubiously claiming the plan would demand $6,000 in taxes from every Maryland family. Then the Covid-19 pandemic gave him a blunt fiscal defense for his veto.

The damage from Covid-19 extends far beyond the educational system, also wreaking havoc on Maryland’s economy and government tax revenues and laying bare the effects of structural inequality on Black lives. Black Americans die from the virus at higher rates than whites while having less access to health care. And now half of Black adults are unemployed.

As the pandemic shreds budgets, there is a serious risk that state investment in elites and preying on Black people for fees and revenue will worsen.

Repair or reparation of racial inequality in Baltimore would include funding the Red Line, the proposals of the Kirwan Commission and other possibilities. Yes, in Baltimore and elsewhere resources should be reallocated from policing to redress perennial defunding of Black communities. Other systemic work is also required, including encouraging rather than discouraging integrated schools and neighborhoods that offer opportunity to all.

But here’s the crux: Dismantling unjust budgetary habits and reducing systemic racism will require sacrifices from white communities that have disproportionately benefited from these policies for decades. In a revolutionary moment where 96 percent of Americans are acknowledging that Black Americans face discrimination, are we finally ready to readjust our spending priorities?

If so, Baltimore’s Red Line would be a good place to start.

Source: Politico, How Larry Hogan Kept Blacks in Baltimore Segregated and Poor

Georgia mask feud exposes America's fault lines

On its face, the legal showdown between Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the legality of the city’s face mask mandate is a dispute over the right balance between personal freedom and public health.

But the increasingly bitter feud between the Republican governor, an acolyte of President Donald Trump, and the Democratic mayor, a possible vice presidential pick who, herself, has tested positive for Covid-19, is also a microcosm of the fault lines — political, racial, geographic — hampering the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and fueling an outbreak that now appears to be spinning out of control.

Atlanta City Council Member Antonio Brown says the failure to contain the virus is hurting “our most vulnerable communities, which are Black and brown communities,” the most. “While we’re pointing fingers, we’re not getting the work of the people done. We’re not saving lives. We’re not protecting our communities that need to be protected.”

The data matches his claim: the parts of the country where the coronavirus outbreaks are now the largest are metro areas across the country’s south and west, areas with local Democratic leaders and large communities of color in states that are predominantly governed by Republicans. That’s heightened the political tension between governors like Kemp, who is playing to one constituency in the state, and Bottoms and other city leaders fighting to protect their local communities.

Kemp filed suit against Lance Bottoms and Atlanta’s city council on Thursday, arguing the city’s mask requirement violates a statewide executive order he signed Wednesday that voids local mask mandates.

Gov. Brian Kemp returns to his office after giving a coronavirus briefing at the Georgia state capitol on Friday in Atlanta. Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over its face mask mandate.

The move, he said, “is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.” That echoes arguments made by President Donald Trump and fellow GOP governors, who complained the country’s response has overreacted in its lockdowns and restrictions as it seeks to contain the virus, and that the economic and personal damage of lockdowns should be weighed more heavily. The rhetoric plays well with Republicans’ predominantly white political base, which have been skeptical of public health advice, a distrust fanned from within the White House.

On Tuesday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the foremost U.S. expert on infectious disease, in a USA Today op-ed, writing that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”

In an interview on the “Today Show,” Friday, Bottoms said she didn’t think it was happenstance that Kemp’s lawsuit “came the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta,” pointing out that the president did not wear a mask at the airport. “This is the same governor who didn’t know until well into the pandemic that it could be spread by asymptomatic transmission. He didn’t go to Emory for guidance. He didn’t go to the CDC for guidance.”

Kemp and other Republican governors who pushed most aggressively to reopen communities and restart economic activity are now presiding over sharp upticks in coronavirus infections and rapidly filling hospitals. And it’s urban areas and places with large communities of color, like Atlanta, that face the toughest consequences.

Since Kemp re-opened Georgia businesses in late April, daily cases have been on the rise, at more than 3,000 people testing positive per day. Of the more than 3,100 total reported deaths in the state, nearly half are African American, despite making up 32 percent of the population.

And Atlanta and its suburbs are at the epicenter. Fulton County, where Atlanta is based, has reported 335 deaths, while the surrounding counties of Gwinnett, DeKalb and Cobb have reported a combined 642. The area is 51 percent Black.

A Center for Disease Control study published June 17 found that 79 percent of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the Atlanta metro area in March and April 2020 were Black.

According to the CDC, Georgia ranks fourth among U.S. states when it comes to the number of Covid-19 cases reported in the past seven days, behind fellow Sun Belt states, Texas, Florida and California and just ahead of Arizona. Available data on infections, hospitalizations and deaths in those states reveal a similar racial divide, with a disproportionate effect on the Black and Latino populations.

The CDC, for example, has found that Hispanic residents of Harris County, home to Houston, are four times as likely to be hospitalized due to Covid-19 than their white counterparts.

Face coverings, public health experts agree, are one of the best ways to slow coronavirus transmission.

“The guidance is clear from the public health perspective. How that’s enforced is something different,” said Dr. Stephanie Miles-Richardson, Professor of Community Health and Preventative Medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine. “The coronavirus doesn’t have any kind of politics or any political affiliation.”

While mask-wearing remains anathema to many conservatives, more and more Republican officials are acknowledging their necessity. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reversed course and issued a statewide mask mandate at the beginning of July. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson followed this week. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis continues to buck pressure to do the same, but aides also said he would not challenge local masks requirements in his state.

Large corporations like Walmart and Target also recently began requiring face coverings in their stores.

In Georgia, several local leaders have followed Bottoms’ example and defied Kemp’s order by making masks mandatory in public spaces. Kelly Girtz, Mayor of Athens, Kemp’s hometown, said he plans to keep the mask mandate in place in his city.

“I find it unfortunately, a waste of our valuable time and energy, when we really need to be working together to do the things that are demonstrably healthy,” he said. “I’ve been in local government now for 14 years. And I’ve seen political winds and alliances come and go. I think what has to be steady is doing the right thing for the people, the community and the right thing right now, is implementing a foundation for safety.”

Source: Politico, Georgia mask feud exposes America’s fault lines