Vice President Mike Pence is self-isolating just days after a top aide, his press secretary, tested positive for COVID-19. According to Bloomberg News, Pence tested negative as recently as Sunday, “but is staying home out of an abundance of caution,” said three people familiar with the situation, “who asked not to be identified because his isolation hasn’t been publicly announced.”
The White House is downplaying the Vice President’s actions, refusing to call it self-isolation or quarantine, as NBC News reports:
NEWS: A senior admin official tells @KellyO that @Mike_Pence “continues to test negative” and there is “no restriction” on his activities, but “out of caution” is going to “be a little low key” and “give a little distance” for a few days. Says this is “less than” self-isolation.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) May 10, 2020
“Vice President Pence will continue to follow the advice of the White House Medical Unit and is not in quarantine,” spokesman Devin O’Malley told the Associated Press. “Additionally, Vice President Pence has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow.”
President Donald Trump has made clear he opposes wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, and the Vice President has continued to follow Trump’s lead, although he did skip a Saturday meeting with President Trump and top military officials.
On Friday the Vice President flew to Des Moines, Iowa, and met with food industry CEOs, whom were directed to remove their masks before meeting the Vice President for a roundtable discussion. Iowa Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue traveled with the Vice President.
Also in self-isolation due to contact with a person or persons infected with coronavirus are the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and the Director of the CDC. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is practicing a “modified” quarantine.
Earlier this week President Donald Trump’s personal valet tested positive, as did a personal aide to First Daughter Ivanka Trump, although that aide does not work in the White House.
This article has been updated to include recent responses from the White House.
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Rick Snyder, GOP Governor During Flint Water Crisis Disaster, Will Be Charged: Report
Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, whose actions led to the Flint water crisis that flowed poisonous water in to 100,000 homes and businesses, will be charged after an investigation by that state’s new Attorney General, Dana Nessel.
“Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15,” The Associated Press reports.
The AP’s Michigan government/politics correspondent David Eggert:
The pending Flint charges against at least 9 officials — arraignments possible as early as Thursday — are the result of a rare step taken by the state attorney general’s office: the use of a grand jury.
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) January 12, 2021
The disaster was headline news for months. It started when Gov. Snyder decided to appoint his own manager to run the city, a tactic MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was among the first to decry as dangerous and possibly unconstitutional. In what was called a cost-saving measure Flint’s water supply was switched to a different source, and contaminated water that subsequently also destroyed water pipes, leeching lead into drinking water, flowed.
“The outbreak was announced by Snyder and Lyon in January 2016, although Lyon conceded that he knew that cases were being reported many months earlier,” the AP notes.
Flint youth activist Amariyanna Copeny, known as Little Miss Flint, points out years after the disaster began Flint’s water system is still not fixed.
Michigan is finally charging ex governor Snyder for his role in the poisoning of my entire city.
Flint is still not fixed. https://t.co/CZKtlBSIQ6
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) January 12, 2021
NBC’s Geoff Bennett weighs in:
I’ll never forget going to Flint — five years after the water crisis began — to see how children were faring after being exposed to brain-damaging levels of lead. Public schools saw a 56 percent spike in special ed needs. Parent spoke of justice they thought would never come. https://t.co/6IhthHOLqc
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 12, 2021
Physician who sounded the alarm over rise in lead levels in children’s blood:
— Mona Hanna-Attisha (@MonaHannaA) January 12, 2021
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
Facebook & Instagram Ban All Content Promoting So-Called “Ex-Gay” Conversion Therapy
On Friday, Facebook and Instagram announced a ban on all videos, images, and written content promoting so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy or reparative therapy, a widely disavowed and debunked form of psychological torture that purports to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The social media giant which owns both platforms said that the ban was merely an expansion of its policies banning hate speech and a progression of its pre-existing ban on conversion therapy ads.
“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” said Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East, although the ban will apply to the U.S., South America and Australia as well.
Although Twitter and Vimeo both have bans on similar content, it’s unclear whether YouTube does as well. The Google-owned video-sharing platform came under fire in June 2018 for running conversion therapy ads before videos made by LGBTQ content creators. At the time, the platform said it didn’t allow ads that promote hatred or illegal services, but that could feasibly allow such ads to continue running in the 30 states where the practice remains legal.
Religious conservatives have previously fought bans on the practice as violations of their constitutionally protected rights to “free speech” and “religious freedom.” Proponents say that people should have the right to rid themselves of “same-sex attraction” and “gender confusion.”
However, the actual methods of ex-gay therapy have never been proven to actually change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Such programs often tell clients to avoid masturbation, to exercise to exhaustion, to view queerness as physically disgusting or threatening to one’s health, or to “reframe” one’s desire onto opposite-sex partners. Other practitioners have used electroshock therapy, molestation, sexual assault, forced medication, or strict gender-typed dress and grooming codes to try and change people.
A 2013 survey said 84 percent of former ex-gay therapy clients still feel lasting shame and emotional harm from undergoing such “therapies.” Numerous conversion therapy advocates later come out as still gay, admitting that it doesn’t work and apologizing for ruining lives while lying to people about its effectiveness.
Most Americans oppose conversion therapy and almost every major American psychological, health and pediatric association does as well. In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear cases challenging the constitutionality of conversion therapy bans as violations against religious freedom, but it remains unclear whether the court will continue to refuse such cases now that it has a more conservative majority.
While the bans are helpful, some states still allow the harmful practice to be marketed towards adults or to everyone under the guise of “religious counseling.” Even states that ban the practice still allow abusive “teen discipline” work camps where parents send their queer and “troubled” youth to be “straightened out.”
Featured image by Daniel Tobias. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Raleigh Racial Justice Protestors Literally Hung a Confederate Statue From a Noose and It Is Beautiful
When Nazis lost World War II in 1945, Germany made laws forbidding any Nazi flags, statues of Nazi military figures or naming things after Nazis. However, when slave-owning Confederates lost the U.S. Civil War in 1865, southerners flew Confederate flags, erected statues of Confederate military figures and slapped the names of Confederate soldiers on everything.
So it makes sense that racial justice protestors in 2020 are tearing down these monuments to racism. In one particular bit of poetic justice, protestors in Raleigh, North Carolina toppled bronze soldiers off of a 75-foot Confederate monument at the state Capitol, tied ropes around one statue’s neck, literally dragging it through the city streets and then stringing it up on a corner traffic signal for all to see and applaud.
— Leigh Tauss (@LeighTauss) June 20, 2020
Not only did the treatment of this statue mirror the exact same public lynchings that southerners and white supremacists terrorized Black people with for generations, it was especially sweet that this act of public defiance occurred on Juneteenth, the day commemorating the emancipation of Black slaves in the United States.
It’s important to note however that the protestors weren’t inflicting a bit of revenge on the Confederate statue. They were merely treating it like an object and a political prop, the same way that racists and the American system have long treated Black people, dehumanizing and abusing it for public spectacle.
At one point, a protester knelt on the statue’s neck in a reference to George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Later on, someone affixed a sign to the statue bearing the names of Black people killed by police before the statue was publicly hung.
— roberto pedone (@zerosum24) June 20, 2020
With its bronze skin, this statue wasn’t a stand-in for what Black people believe should be done to white racists — it was a stand-in for what Black Americans have endured at the hands of their white neighbors many times over.
It’s actually a sign of progress that protestors are increasingly tearing down such statues during the ongoing protests. By doing so, they’re sending the message that they’re tired of living amongst those who, like Nazis, deserve to be reviled and forgotten in their bigoted infamy.
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