Thursday, May 28, 2020

Unrest Continues in Response to Racist Killings in the United States
Two consecutive days of unrest in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis and other cities demand an end to racist police and mob killings of African Americans

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Thursday May 28, 2020
Commentary

For two straight days and nights demonstrations have taken place on the Southside of Minneapolis in response to the brutal police killing of African American George Floyd.

Floyd was choked to death by a Minneapolis officer with an extensive record of misconduct complaints.
Corporate media reports have initially claimed that no disciplinary action was taken against the policeman who ignored pleas by Floyd saying he could not breathe and that he was dying.

Riot police in Minneapolis responded to the second night of mass protests with teargas, rubber bullets and armored vehicles. People were shown over videotape being chased and rundown by MPD cars.

Several buildings and cars were torched along Lake Street in response to the brutality used by law-enforcement. Police were pelted with missiles by angry demonstrators demanding that the four officers, who have been terminated by the MPD and the City of Minneapolis, be immediately arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Third Precinct police station where the demonstration began on May 27 was later damaged with bricks and metal objects breaking several windows. Attacks were carried out at various businesses including Target, Cub Foods, Dollar Tree and an auto parts store.

One person was found dead on the street near a pawn shop. The death may have been at the hands of the owner of the business. Several merchants are guarding their buildings with firearms to prevent property damage and the loss of consumer goods.
One merchant reported that four cars were taken from his repair garage and one was rammed into a TCF bank at another location. Mayor Jacob Frey, who called for the arrest and charging of the terminated officers, has also requested the assistance of the Minnesota National Guard to assist in quelling the disturbances. The Mayor said in a press conference on May 28 that Governor Tim Walz had not yet given a specific response to the appeal for National Guard troops to be deployed in Minneapolis. Walz tweeted a message urging calm and warning against the dangerous situation prevailing in Minneapolis.
A description of events during the late hours of May 27 and early May 28 were chronicled by the Associated Press saying: “Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes during the protests, including at least 16 structure fires, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes. Firefighters were still spraying water onto hot buildings Thursday morning (May 28), and some buildings still smoldered, sending a bitter smell into the smoke-filled air. Windows were smashed out of several businesses in a strip mall, including a department store, a charter school and other businesses, and the destruction was visible for blocks. A Wendy’s restaurant was damaged beyond recognition.” (https://apnews.com/7013997bc5633f3113d65901ddb7e85e)

U.S. President Donald Trump said he is urging the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the killing of Floyd. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it will carry out a “robust” examination of the case to determine whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

However, the Trump administration in its initial days revoked all federal consent decrees designed to monitor violations by local law-enforcement agencies in various cities across the country. Such executive actions signal to the police that they will not be subjected to legal scrutiny related to complaints of police misconduct.

Demonstrators Spread to Los Angeles and Memphis

Demonstrations erupted in other cities including Los Angeles and Memphis. Crowds gathered in both cities to speak out against police violence directed against African Americans.

In downtown Los Angeles on May 27 around 4:00pm, hundreds of demonstrators protested outside the Hall of Justice to bring attention to the police killings of Floyd and many more African Americans around the U.S. including in California. Later many of the activists entered the Hollywood 101 Freeway blocking traffic. Reports indicated that windows in two California Highway Patrol (CHP) vehicles were smashed. One person sitting on a police carrier was injured when the officer driving the car sped off landing the demonstrator on the road. The injured protestor was carried to an area hospital for medical treatment.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said in response to questions about why the demonstration was being organized, noted: “We’re calling for officers who kill people to go to prison and because Jackie Lacey, the district attorney, won’t do that, she needs to be voted out.” (https://laist.com/latest/post/20200527/los-angeles-protest)

Many motorists passing the demonstration honked their horns in solidarity. The protestors chanted: "When We Fight, We Win" and "Jackie Lacey Must Go."

Demonstrators later moved to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center where a rally was held. Inmates inside the facilities were heard chanting and banging on walls in solidarity with the protesters.

Speakers at the rally at the LAMDC included actor Kendrick Sampson and the mother of police killing victim Kenneth Ross Junior, 25, who died at the hands of the Gardena police in 2018. One activist Tanissia Sprull said of the action: “We’re protesting the police and we’re surrounded by police and they’re here to intimidate us so we won’t do this. We’re people, too, and there’s nothing wrong with being black and there’s nothing wrong with seeking justice for these families.”

In Memphis, an hours-long demonstration was held beginning outside a Midtown police station on Union Avenue. Police were summoned to the scene of the activity wearing riot gear, accompanied by K-9 units and deploying pepper spray. It was reported that two people were either detained briefly or arrested.

Outside the police station on Union Avenue, two counter-protesters from a group called “Confederate 901” supported the law-enforcement officers and taunted anti-racist activists rallying in opposition to brutality and unjustifiable homicides carried out around the U.S. One well-known Memphis activist and former City Council candidate, Theryn Bond, said despite health challenges she thought it was important to be physically present for the demonstration.
Bond told the media in relationship to the present situation in the U.S. and the role of the two pro-police counter-demonstrators that: "I came out here to be supportive, because this is bigger than one person. This is about more than a list of hashtags that shouldn't even exist. What are we taught in science class? For every action, there's a reaction.” (https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/2020/05/27/george-floyd-demonstration-memphis-shuts-down-union-avenue/5269833002/)
The demonstration in Memphis ended around 1:00am on May 28. Other marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience are planned around the U.S. in the coming days.

Immediate Prospects for the Building of an Effective Anti-Racist Movement

These demonstrations in response to the police and vigilante killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis, are a clear reflection of the social crisis existing at present in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic downturn not experienced since the Great Depression. Since mid-March at least 41 million workers have lost their jobs facing uncertainty related to manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, housing, education and public transportation.

The general atmosphere created during the pandemic and before by the Trump administration and its allies have brought about great consternation and despair. Law-enforcement agencies and racists elements in the U.S. feel emboldened to lash out in a deadly fashion against African Americans and other oppressed groups.

In Washtenaw County Michigan, anger has surfaced resulting from the assault by a deputy sheriff against an African American woman in Ypsilanti Township, some 35 miles outside of Detroit. For three days demonstrations have been held demanding justice for the victim of the beating name Sha’Teina Grady El. The woman was arrested and later transferred to Taylor, Michigan, where authorities say she was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
On May 27, over 100 people gathered at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s offices in Pittsfield Township. Additional demonstrations related to the incident are being planned.

These demonstrations against racism will undoubtedly take on other related issues which are socioeconomic in character. The development of a broad movement against racism and economic deprivation caused by the contemporary capitalist meltdown portends much for the prospects for transforming the U.S. into a just and egalitarian society. 
National Guard Called to Respond to Minneapolis Rebellion
By TIM SULLIVAN and AMY FORLITI

Protesters face off with police at the Minneapolis Police Third Precinctt, Thursday, May 28, 2020, after a night of rioting as protests continue over the arrest of George Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis after video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called in the National Guard on Thursday as looting broke out in St. Paul and a wounded Minneapolis braced for more violence after rioting over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody, reduced parts of one neighborhood to a smoking shambles.

The Minneapolis unrest ravaged several blocks in the Longfellow neighborhood, with scattered rioting reaching for miles across the city. It was the second consecutive night of violent protests following Floyd’s death Monday. In footage recorded by a bystander, Floyd can be seen pleading that he can’t breath as an officer kneels on his neck. As minutes pass, he slowly stops talking and moving.

Businesses across the Twin Cities were boarding up their windows and doors Thursday in an effort to prevent looting. The city shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns.

Around midday Thursday, the violence spread a few miles away to St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, where police said 50 to 60 people rushed a Target attempting to loot it. Police and state patrol squad cars later blocked the entrance, but the looting shifted to shops along nearby University Avenue, one of St. Paul’s main commercial corridors, and other spots in the city. By early evening, the windows of more than a dozen stores were smashed, and firefighters were putting out a handful of small blazes.

St. Paul spokesman Steve Linders said authorities were dealing with unrest in roughly 20 different areas.

“Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again,” tweeted St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who is black.

Erika Atson, 20, was among several hundred people who gathered outside government offices in downtown Minneapolis, where organizers called for peaceful protest.

Atson, who is black, described seeing her 14- and 11-year-old brothers tackled by Minneapolis police years ago because officers mistakenly presumed the boys had guns. She said she had been at “every single protest” since Floyd’s death and worried about raising children who could be vulnerable in police encounters.

“We don’t want to be here fighting against anyone. We don’t want anyone to be hurt. We don’t want to cause any damages,” she said. “We just want the police officer to be held accountable.”

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said the rally had been peaceful and there had been no arrests by late evening.

The governor’s order did not say how many Guard members were mobilized or whether they would be in service Thursday night. After calling in the Guard, Walz urged widespread changes in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect,” Walz said.

Thursday morning in Minneapolis, smoke rose from smoldering buildings in the Longfellow neighborhood. In a strip mall across the street from the police’s 3rd Precinct station, the focus of the protests on both nights, the windows in nearly every business had been smashed, from the large Target department store at one end to the Planet Fitness gym at the other. Only the 24-hour laundromat appeared to have escaped unscathed.

“WHY US?” demanded a large expanse of red graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Target. A Wendy’s restaurant across the street was charred almost beyond recognition.

Among the casualties of the overnight fires: a six-story building under construction that was to provide nearly 200 apartments of affordable housing.

“We’re burning our own neighborhood,” said a distraught Deona Brown, a 24-year-old woman standing with a friend outside the precinct station, where a small group of protesters were shouting at a dozen or so stone-faced police officers in riot gear. “This is where we live, where we shop, and they destroyed it.” No officers could be seen beyond the station.

“What that cop did was wrong, but I’m scared now,” Brown said.

Others in the crowd saw something different in the wreckage.

Protesters destroyed property “because the system is broken,” said a young man who identified himself only by his nickname, Cash, and who said he had been in the streets during the violence. He dismissed the idea that the destruction would hurt residents of the largely black neighborhood.

“They’re making money off of us,” he said angrily of the owners of the destroyed stores. He laughed when asked if he had joined in the looting or violence. “I didn’t break anything.”

The protests that began Wednesday night and extended into Thursday were more violent than Tuesday’s, which included skirmishes between offices and protesters but no widespread property damage.

Mayor Jacob Frey appealed for calm but the city’s response to the protests was quickly questioned as things started spiraling into violence. “If the strategy was to keep residents safe — it failed,” City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who is black, tweeted. “Prevent property damage — it failed.” On Thursday, he urged police to leave the scene of the overnight violence, saying their presence brings people into the streets.

But Eric Kowalczyk, a police captain in Baltimore during the Freddie Gray riots in 2015, generally supported the Minneapolis police strategy to avoid confrontations with protesters when possible, saying heavy-handed police responses are only met with more violence.

“Nobody wants to see their city on fire, but at the same time, you don’t want to see citizens injured by the very police department they are protesting,” he said.

Protests also spread to other U.S. cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers. Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police station.

Amid the violence in Minneapolis, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.

Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes.

The city on Thursday released a transcript of the 911 call that brought police to the grocery store where Floyd was arrested. The caller described someone paying with a counterfeit bill, with workers rushing outside to find the man sitting on a van. The caller described the man as “awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.” Asked by the 911 operator whether the man was “under the influence of something,” the caller said: “Something like that, yes. He is not acting right.” Police said Floyd matched the caller’s description of the suspect.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into the death. President Donald Trump has said he had asked an investigation to be expedited.

The FBI is also investigating whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

The officer who kneeled on Floyd and three others were fired Tuesday. The next day, the mayor called for the kneeling officer to be criminally charged. He also appealed for activation of the National Guard.
___

Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski and Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis, and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee, contributed to this report.
County, State Officials Criticize Memphis Police Department, Administration's Response to Protest
Micaela A. Watts and Samuel Hardiman,
Memphis Commercial Appeal
8:20 p.m. CT May 28, 2020

A group of demonstrators in Midtown Memphis on Wednesday protest the recent deaths of three black Americans across the country hold signs with the name of George Floyd who was killed in Minneapolis. The protest turned when a counter-protester holding a Confederate 901 sign showed up. Police closed part of Union Avenue and put up barricades to keep the two groups separated. (Photo: Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal)

A Wednesday evening protest over police brutality and the deaths of black Americans ended with at least five of the demonstrators being arrested. In the aftermath, activists, community leaders and the Shelby County Democratic Party criticized the Memphis Police Department and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Activists and elected officials questioned why the MPD allowed two counter-protesters to use racial slurs (epithets were also hurled at police), and why three of those arrested were still in the Shelby County Jail on misdemeanor charges when the site is among the known outbreaks of COVID-19 in Shelby County. They also said they don’t feel that police are listening to them.

"People in Memphis do not feel they are being heard," said Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer during a virtual news conference Thursday. Sawyer and State Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis criticized the actions of several MPD personnel on Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning during the protest that shutdown Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis for hours.

Other participants in the virtual news conference included the Rev. Earle Fisher; educator Ayo Akinmoladun, who organized the Wednesday protest;  activist Keedran Franklin; community organizer Theryn Bond; and local Black Lives Matter organizer Shahidah Jones.

Sawyer and Strickland opposed each other in the October municipal election and embarked upon what was a tough campaign. There is also no love lost between the city of Memphis administration and some activists.

"They (police officers) were out of line last night, and I'm being kind when I say that," said Hardaway, who did not attend the protest, noting a moment when a member of MPD used a riot shield and knocked a woman over.

Video footage, originally captured by activist Hunter Demster, showed a woman standing on Union Avenue when she was approached by an MPD officer with a riot shield who knocked her to the ground with the shield. 

In a statement and public comments Thursday, Strickland also expressed outrage at the deaths of black Americans, particularly the death of George Floyd Monday. But the mayor criticized the lack of social distancing, saying it put the protesters and MPD personnel at risk for contracting the virus.

The protest, which lasted for hours, came at a time when groups of more than 50 are forbidden in Memphis and Shelby County unless there's a clear social distancing plan.

The group also expressed concern about Strickland’s criticism of protesters for forgoing social distancing guidelines and placing themselves and the police at risk of COVID-19.

Akinmoladun, one of the organizers, said the demonstration started with observation of social distancing guidelines.

What started out as a spaced-out, silent protest turned into a crowd as tensions flared between protesters and counter-protesters as well as police.

MPD later used barricades to keep protesters on the north sidewalk of Union Avenue, which, momentarily, put them in a more confined space than the blocked-off street. The protesters were free to move about, however, and they later marched east and west down Union Avenue.

After 10 p.m. Wednesday, the main body of protesters returned to an area east of Walgreens at Union and McLean Boulevard, a crowd of more than 50 gathered around MPD Deputy Chief Sam Hines. Some in the crowd were wearing masks. Others were not.

After the crowded confrontation between Bond and Hines, the MPD Deputy Chief motioned for dozens of officers to back away from the crowd in an apparent attempt to deescalate the conflict. Some time later, police returned in riot gear.

MPD officers were also seen throughout the evening standing shoulder to shoulder. Both protesters and police convened in small groups, standing next to each other. Most MPD personnel on the scene wore masks, but more than a few did not wear anything covering their mouths or noses.

Strickland’s criticism over the lack of social distancing was, in turn, critiqued by the Shelby County Democratic Party.

“In response to Mayor Strickland’s statement released this morning, the Party takes the following position: the Memphis Police Department unnecessarily placed themselves, their colleagues, and the protesters at risk — not the other way around, as the Mayor stated,” the party said in a statement.

The party said, “During a global pandemic, officers refusing to maintain at least six feet between themselves and protesters, unless absolutely critical to do otherwise unnecessarily places citizens at risk. Refusing to maintain that distance while not wearing a mask or gloves increases risk, and setting up barricades, making it impossible for many protesters to maintain six feet apart, unnecessarily places citizens at risk.”

MPD and Attorney General Amy Weirich did not respond to a request for comment. The Strickland administration refused to comment beyond his statements and comments Thursday. Two of at least five people arrested due to the protest were released on their recognizance. 
Minnesota Declares State of Emergency After Protests Over Death of George Floyd
2020-05-29 07:00:51|Editor: huaxia

WASHINGTON, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Thursday declared a state of emergency and activated Minnesota National Guard to restore order after protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody turned violent Wednesday night with fires burning and businesses looted in Minneapolis, the biggest city in the midwest state.

Floyd died on Monday evening shortly after a white police officer held him down with a knee on his neck though the black man in his 40s repeatedly pleaded, "I can't breathe," and "please, I can't breathe." The police officer's way of handling the man is not approved by the local police department.

Walz's order came after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's calls for assistance after widespread damage and looting took place amid the riot on Wednesday night.

"George Floyd's death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction," Walz said in a statement.

"It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they're charged to protect," said the governor.

The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency, according to a report from local newspaper Star Tribune.

In addition, the Minnesota State Patrol will supply 200 troopers. State Patrol helicopters and other aircraft will also be available to assist law enforcement officers on the ground, said the report.

Wednesday night's protests began peacefully and escalated into gunfire and arson, with about 30 buildings reported ablaze, and countless others damaged, said the report.

To prepare for additional protests on Thursday, city officials said they are establishing a command center that will allow various departments to communicate more efficiently both among themselves and with any other jurisdictions that might assist.

Floyd's death have sparked a nationwide outcry for justice as demonstrations over his death spread to some other U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Memphis on Wednesday night.
Mississippi Mayor Faces Backlash for George Floyd Comments: 'I Didn't See Anything Unreasonable'
Lici Beveridge
Hattiesburg American

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – A post by Petal, Mississippi, Mayor Hal Marx has sparked backlash, but he says his words were misinterpreted by some.

On Tuesday Marx tweeted "Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?"

The mayor was referring to the police officers who were fired Tuesday, a day after 46-year-old George Floyd died after being pinned to the ground by one of the officers.

Jason A. Darby, another Twitter user, responded by saying, "Would be nice to get a few in there that understand reasonable force, when it’s needed, and don’t give the rest of them a bad reputation."

What followed was a response by Marx that ignited backlash on Twitter:

"If you are talking about the incident in MN, I didn’t see anything unreasonable. If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified."

The tweet and his account have since been deleted.

What Marx meant, he said, was no one knows for sure how Floyd died or what the circumstances were before he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer.

"I think that people are so quick to judge the police before they have all the facts," he said. "I can't say whether a crime was committed or whether they did anything right or wrong, all I'm saying is don't rush to judgment based on what you see in that video."

George Floyd video adds to trauma:'When is the last time you saw a white person killed online?'

What we know:Minneapolis mayor calls for peace amid protests, fires, looting and anger erupt after George Floyd's death

Marx, who was first elected in 2009, said he was asking people to wait until all the facts were out before throwing stones at the police.

"I've seen too many cases before where the police were judged to be guilty in the public's eye but later were found to be not guilty under the law," he said. "For sending that, all of a sudden I'm called racist, I need to have a knee put on my neck – all kinds of hateful stuff simply for having an opinion and asking people to get all the facts before they judge."

Regardless of Marx's intent, Clarence Magee, president of the Forrest County NAACP in Mississippi, said the mayor's remark was uncalled for.

"To hear that statement made by a mayor or anybody is very troubling," he said. "What we saw was disgusting on the part of the officer. It leaves me with mixed emotions. Believing and thinking that we have not gone far enough in this day and time with social media and all that kind of stuff – nobody should condone that. Everybody should condemn it, including the mayor. Skin color had nothing to do with it."

Magee said the loss of a human life should be the most important concern.

"You're sending a message to people who are barbarian, who are terrorists, you are saying it's OK. But it's not OK," Magee said. "That was somebody's son. Somebody's father. Somebody's brother. If the shoe was on the other foot, would he have the same statement to make?"

Marx said he wasn't trying to make a statement. He said people have interpreted his words how they want to without considering his intent.

"They've already got their minds made up," he said. "If you've got a different opinion, then you are somehow a horrible person. There is nothing I said that is factually incorrect or racist or has anything to do with race at all."

Floyd's story gained national attention through news reports and a video taken at the scene.

A bystander videotaping what happened documented Floyd on the ground, pleading with an officer as the officer keeps his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck. Eventually Floyd stops talking. About four minutes into the video, Floyd becomes unresponsive.

Floyd was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.

Protesters took to the streets, marching from where Floyd was pinned to a police precinct more than 2 miles away.

Some protesters damaged windows, a squad car and spraying graffiti on the building. A line of police in riot gear eventually confronted the protesters, firing tear gas and other projectiles.

Follow reporter Lici Beveridge on Twitter @licibev 
2nd Protester Hurt in Downtown LA Black Lives Matter Protest When Car Drives Through Marchers
Demonstrators gather during a protest Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Los Angeles over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

By JOSH CAIN | jcain@scng.com | Los Angeles Daily News
May 28, 2020 at 4:20 p.m.

Detectives on Thursday were investigating after a car hit one of several hundred activists marching in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, injuring him and prompting a search for the driver, police said.

The man was walking with protesters angry over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday while in Minneapolis police custody, when they passed a car stopped at the light at First and Spring streets.

How the collision occurred isn’t clear, but the man was left injured on the street after the car sped away. Sgt. Frank Preciado of the Los Angeles Police Department said detectives were investigating what happened.

“Normally this would be categorized as a hit-and-run,” he said.

He said police don’t know for sure that a crime occurred, owing to some of the chaos downtown after police in riot gear scattered hundreds of protesters.

Paramedics treated the man. Preciado didn’t know if he was taken to a hospital. But he’s the second injured protester involved in the marches downtown two days after Floyd’s killing.

The first injury occurred when protesters who moved on to the 101 Freeway tangled with a pair of California Highway Patrol cruisers. As one of the units drove through the group, the cruiser was surrounded and had its back window smashed with a skateboard, according to news helicopter footage of the protest.

A protester jumped on top and was still sitting on the roof as the vehicle drove off — he jumped down then appeared to slam his head into the ground.

A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman didn’t know the injured man’s condition Thursday but said he appeared to be OK.

Misunderstanding may have prompted some of the punches and kicks thrown at the CHP units — several protesters on social media and in an interview said they thought the CHP cruiser ran over the injured man.

Despite the highway encounter, both police and protesters described Wednesday’s protests as an afternoon of mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Things started when protesters took over the intersection at Aliso and Los Angeles streets. After about two hours, LAPD commanders declared the gathering unlawful and sent out riot police.

Joseph Williams, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said the protests were peaceful until the encounter with police at the intersection. He said the freeway demonstration was spontaneous, and he called the CHP unit driving through their group “reckless.”

“We had a number of folks out there who were family members, or community members, or loved ones of people who have been killed by police violence,” he said.

A CHP spokesman has not returned a request for comment.

LAPD officials in a tweet asked protesters not to go on the freeway.

“We hear your anger & your pain,” they said. “We will always facilitate freedom of speech. Period. All we ask is that protests are held in a safe & legal manner.”

Preciado said there were some reports of protesters throwing objects at officers after they were ordered to leave the intersection. But he said the group was peaceful up until then.

“Command staff made the determination that they had ample time to exercise First Amendment rights,” he said. “They then declared it an unlawful assembly and started the dispersal order.”
Another 2.1 Million File Jobless Claims, But Total Unemployed Shrinks
THU, MAY 28 20208:30 AM EDT
Jeff Cox

First-time jobless claims totaled 2.1 million last week, slightly ahead of the 2.05 million Wall Street estimate.
Continuing claims plunged by nearly 4 million to just over 21 million, probably a clearer representation of the jobless level.
The high jobless numbers persist even as all states have reopened their economies to various extents.
Nearly 41 million jobless claims have now been filed since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 2.1 million last week, the lowest total since the coronavirus crisis began though indicative that a historically high number of Americans remain separated from their jobs.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 2.05 million. The total represented a decrease of 323,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised 2.438 million.

Continuing claims, or those who have been collecting for at least two weeks, numbered 21.05 million, a clearer picture of how many workers are still sidelined. That number dropped sharply, falling 3.86 million from the previous week.

That decline in continuing claims “suggests that the reopening of states is pushing businesses to rehire some of the people let go when the virus hit,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. However, Shepherdson noted that some of the data, particularly from California, remains noisy and may not be an accurate representation of some states’ situations.

The insured unemployment rate, which is a basic calculation of those collecting benefits vs. the total labor force, came down sharply to 14.5% from 17.1% the previous week.

“Layoffs continue at a massive scale, according to the latest unemployment insurance report, but it may be that the job market is nearing a turning point,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC.

The four-week moving average, which helps smooth out weekly volatility, rose to 22.72 million, an increase of 760,250 from the previous week.

Since the pandemic was declared in mid-March, 40.8 million have filed claims as social distancing measures aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak resulted in much of the $21.5 trillion U.S. economy being in lockdown for 2½ months.

A separate report Thursday showed that first-quarter GDP contracted by 5%, while the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow tracker is indicating a 41.9% plunge in Q2 that will be the worst in U.S. history. That would put the U.S. firmly in recession territory, though most economists are expecting a rebound in the second half of the year after restrictions are lifted.

A total 1.19 million filed claims through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program last week.

The high jobless numbers persist even as all states have reopened their economies to various extents. Las Vegas casinos will be resuming activities late next week, Disney resorts also have targeted July reopening dates and Los Angeles is allowing retail stores to resume business. Restrictions are likely to be loosened soon in New York as well.

Still, businesses are wrestling with multiple dynamics stemming from the biggest surge in in layoffs since the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that business owners are seeing workers reluctant to return to their jobs because of safety concerns, child-care issues and “generous” unemployment benefits from the government.

At the state level, Pennsylvania saw the biggest rise in claims last week with 6,892, according to numbers not adjusted seasonally. Many large states, though, saw declines from a week earlier Washington fell by 86,839, while California declined by 32,088 and New York decreased by 31,769.
White House Punts Economic Update as Election Draws Near
By ANDREW TAYLOR, JOSH BOAK and AAMER MADHANI

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House took the unusual step on Thursday of deciding not to release an updated economic forecast as planned this year, a fresh sign of the administration’s anxiety about how the coronavirus has ravaged the nation just months before the election.

The decision, which was confirmed by a senior administration official who was not authorized to publicly comment on the plan, came amid intensifying signals of the pandemic’s grim economic toll.

The U.S. economy shrank at a faster-than-expected annual rate of 5% during the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. At least 2.1 million Americans lost their jobs last week, meaning an astonishing 41 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since shutdowns intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus began in mid-March.

Trump argues that the economy will rebound later this year or in 2021 and that voters should give him another term in office to oversee the expansion. But the delay of the updated midyear economic forecast, typically released in July or August, was an indication that the administration doesn’t want to bring attention to the pandemic’s impact anytime soon.

“It’s a sign that the White House does not anticipate a major recovery in employment and growth prior to the election and that it has essentially punted economic policy over to the Fed and the Congress,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for the consultant RSM.

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, maintained that the underlying economic data would be too uncertain to convey a meaningful picture about the recovery.

But the political stakes of a weakening economy are hard to overstate, especially in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that are critical to the president’s reelection.

According to an AP-NORC poll conducted in May, 49% of Americans approve of how the president is handling the economy. That has dipped over the last two months, from 56% who said so in March.

Still, the economy remains a particular strong point for Trump. Before the outbreak began, and even as the virus started sending shock waves through the economy, approval of how he had handled the issue was the highest it’s been over the course of his presidency.

Since then, views on the economy have reversed dramatically.

The May poll found that 70% of Americans call the nation’s economy poor, while just 29% say it’s good. In January, 67% called the economy good.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and liberal economists swiftly seized on the report’s delay to argue that Trump is seeking to avoid putting his administration’s imprint on bad economic news in the months before the Nov. 3 vote.

“This desperate attempt to keep the American people in the dark about the economy’s performance is not only an acknowledgement that Trump knows he’s responsible for some of the most catastrophic economic damage in American history, but also a sign of how stunningly out of touch he is with hard working Americans,” said Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman.

While the economic forecast is being delayed, updated information about the nation’s budgetary situation will still be released as expected this summer, the senior administration official said. A significant decline in tax receipts, as well as outlays from almost $3 trillion in coronavirus-related aid bills, is sure to produce a multitrillion-dollar government deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30.

Paul Winfree, a former Trump White House director of budget policy, doubted that the holdup on the economic update was on Trump’s radar.

“Honestly, I don’t think the president thinks about the publication of the mid-session review and the politics around it,” Winfree said.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, noted that the law requires the White House to update its budget forecast. That responsibility is even more important given the uncertainty in the economy and the trillions of dollars in aid that have already changed the trajectory of government spending, she said.

“By staying silent on how to reallocate those federal dollars under an unprecedented economic downturn, the executive branch is doing a disservice to taxpayers and avoiding tough discussions we need to have about the new fiscal reality,” she said.

Jason Furman, who led the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, said the Trump administration pointing to economic uncertainty as the reason to put off the forecast doesn’t hold weight.

Trump has repeatedly predicted improvement in the third and fourth quarters of this year, and the president just this week predicted 2021 is going to be “one of the best years we’ve ever had.” White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett said earlier this week that a double-digit unemployment rate was possible in November.

“You have to make decisions on incredibly uncertain information right now,” Furman said. “They are out on TV every day making economic forecasts and predictions about what’s going to happen in the economy.”

The Trump team’s economic projections, like those from earlier administrations, have tended to be overly optimistic. Last year’s review estimated that the economy would grow more than 3% last year, but the actual gains were a far more lukewarm 2.3%.

It similarly claimed that growth under Trump would cause the budget deficit to fall as a share of the economy. That estimate could never have anticipated the outbreak of the coronavirus that forced more than $3 trillion in aid as the deficit is on course to reach new highs.

In 2017, the Trump administration criticized the Obama administration for rosy expectations of growth during the Great Recession more than a decade ago. An updated forecast in the mid-session review could make the Trump White House a similar target for criticism.

Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Biden, said a timely update on the state of the economy is more important than ever.

“The idea that you’d abrogate that responsibility now is pretty serious fiscal malpractice,” Bernstein said. “They don’t like the numbers they’d have to write down. This is a White House that is in denial about the trajectory of the economy.”
___

Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.
Job Losses Continue to Mount in US Despite Reopenings
By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER and DAN SEWELL

A woman walks into a closing Gordmans store, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Charles, Mo. Stage Stores, which owns Gordmans, is closing all its stores and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The coronavirus crisis threw at least 2.1 million Americans out of work last week despite the gradual reopening of businesses around the country, stoking fears Thursday that the scourge is doing deep and potentially long-lasting damage to the U.S. economy.

Amid a few glimmers of hope, most of the latest economic news from around the globe was likewise grim, as some of the world’s most populous countries continued to report rising infections and deaths. The confirmed U.S. death toll topped 100,000, the highest in the world, on Wednesday.

The latest job-loss figures from the U.S. Labor Department bring to 41 million the running total of Americans who have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus shutdowns took hold in mid-March.

There were some encouraging signs: The overall number of Americans currently drawing jobless benefits dropped for the first time since the crisis began, from 25 million to 21 million. And first-time applications for unemployment have fallen for eight straight weeks, as states gradually let stores, restaurants and other businesses reopen and the auto industry starts up factories again.

But the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment is still extraordinarily high by historical standards, and that suggests businesses are failing or permanently downsizing, not just laying off people until the crisis can pass, economists warn.

“That is the kind of economic destruction you cannot quickly put back in the bottle,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 14.7% in April, a level not seen since the Depression, and many economists expect it will be near 20% in May.

The figures come amid an intensifying debate in Congress over whether to extend $600 in extra weekly federal unemployment benefits, provided under rescue legislation passed in March but set to expire July 31.

Democrats have proposed extending the payments, while Republicans have argued that the extra money could discourage laid-off workers from returning to jobs that pay less than they are getting on unemployment.

Kelly Kelso, a 30-year-old roadie from Nashville for the rock group Foreigner, got her first unemployment check last week after more than eight weeks of waiting. She said she is still receiving far less in benefits than the $1,250 per week or more that she made on tour.

Though she is reluctant to leave the music industry, she said, “I have a cosmetology license. If all else fails, I could go back to doing hair.”

Another looming storm cloud: Economists say the sharp loss of tax revenue for state and local governments is likely to compound the damage from the shutdowns by forcing additional public-sector layoffs in the coming weeks.

Those layoffs have just recently started showing up in the weekly jobless claims report. Washington state, for example, reported layoffs of government employees.

Job cuts are also appearing far beyond the initially hit industries such as restaurants and stores, a sign that the damage is spreading even as businesses reopen. Washington state said it saw layoffs in insurance, and New York state reported job cuts by information technology companies.

Economists say many of the jobs lost are never coming back, and double-digit unemployment could persist through 2021.

And as discouraging as the numbers are, the real picture may be worse. The government counts people as unemployed only if they’re actually looking for a job, and many Americans probably see no point in trying when so many businesses are shut down.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are struggling after air travel plummeted early in the outbreak. Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 U.S. jobs through layoffs and buyouts, many expected to be in the Seattle area. European budget airline Easyjet said it will cut up to a third of its 15,000 employees. American Airlines plans to eliminate about 5,100 jobs.

Amtrak likewise announced it will lay off about 20% of its 18,000 workers amid a collapse in train ridership.

A number of European countries have strong safety-net programs that are underwriting the wages of millions of workers and keeping them on the payroll instead of adding them to the ranks of the unemployed. But the economic damage is mounting there, too.

Nissan is rolling back production in Spain in a move the government said could lead to 3,000 direct job cuts and thousands more losses at the automaker’s suppliers. And French unemployment claims jumped 22% in April, with 843,000 more people seeking work.

Elsewhere around the world, India saw another record daily jump in coronavirus cases. Russia reported a steady increase in its caseload, even as the city of Moscow and provinces across the vast country moved to ease restrictions in sync with the Kremlin’s political agenda.

And South Korea reported its biggest jump in infections in more than 50 days, a setback that could erase some of the hard-won gains that have made it a model for the rest of the world.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 5.7 million people and killed over 355,000, with the U.S. having the most confirmed cases and deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths.

The true dimensions of the disaster are widely believed to be significantly greater, with experts saying many victims died without ever being tested.
___

Sewell reported from Cincinnati. Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.
North Carolina Governor: RNC Hasn’t Submitted Safety Plan
By JONATHAN DREW

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper listens to a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

North Carolina’s governor said Thursday that his administration hasn’t received the written safety plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention requested by his health secretary in response to President Donald Trump’s demands for a full-scale event.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said during a media briefing that RNC organizers have yet to turn over written plans for how they envision safely holding the convention in Charlotte in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter Monday to the top RNC organizer asking for the written plans after Trump demanded in a tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention will be held. Cooper and Cohen say that they had discussed various scenarios with convention organizers but want their plan in writing.

“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way. And for weeks and months, the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing the RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” he said.

But despite the request Monday, Cooper said: “We’ve yet to see” a written safety plan from RNC organizers.

Cooper said his administration required a similar written plan from NASCAR ahead of its recent race in the Charlotte area that was held without fans. He said he’s in similar discussions with sports teams including Charlotte’s NFL and NBA teams.

Trump threatened in a tweet Monday to move the RNC unless Cooper could guarantee a full-capacity gathering. Then on Tuesday, Trump reiterated the idea by saying he wanted an answer from Cooper within a week, or he’d be forced to consider moving the convention somewhere else. Florida and Georgia’s governors have said they’re interested in hosting

Asked about Trump’s demand for an answer within a week, Cooper told reporters: “We’re not on any timeline here.”

The convention’s media relations team didn’t immediately respond to an email Thursday asking about the request for a written plan.

Cooper has gradually eased business restrictions, with restaurants now allowed to offer limited indoor dining. But entertainment venues, bars and gyms remain closed under his current order that also caps indoor mass gatherings at 10 people.

Local Republican officials have noted that Trump isn’t a party to the convention contract and doesn’t appear to have the power to unilaterally move the event, which is scheduled to start in 90 days after two years of planning.

The county surrounding Charlotte has had the most virus cases of any in North Carolina, and the state is experiencing an upward trend in cases.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Outrage Mounts Over Racist Police and Vigilante Killings
African Americans continue to be systematically profiled and executed by law-enforcement
agencies and bigoted whites creating a volatile situation across the United States

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Wednesday May 27, 2020
Commentary

Four Minneapolis police officers have been terminated from their jobs in the aftermath of the
videotaped exposure of the blatant killing of George Floyd.

This act of police violence which has no justification is by no means an isolated incident.
A white officer was seen in the video taken on a cell phone applying pressure from his knee on
the neck of Floyd. The victim said repeatedly that he could not breathe yet the policeman
continued to carry out the behavior while another officer was captured looking on and taking
no action to restrain the one doing the choking.

The killing of Floyd marks a continued program of intimidation, violence and execution levelled
against African Americans for centuries. The government in Washington, D.C. has given state
approval to target, seize and liquidate anyone deemed a threat to the status quo of racism and
national oppression.

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and prior to the outbreak
during early and mid-March, African Americans have been systematically targeted by law-
enforcement agencies as well as racist armed individuals and organizations for harassment,
arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, serious injury and death. The pandemic which has
disproportionately impacted the African American people in urban, suburban and rural areas
has not lessened the lethal force policies of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state.
Immediate denunciations of the police killing of Floyd took place around the U.S. and
internationally. In Minneapolis itself, large crowds gathered outside the police station to
protest the death of Floyd along with demanding the detention and prosecution of the police
officers involved. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/26/george-floyd-killing-
minneapolis-protest-police)

On the evening of May 26, police wearing riot gear launched tear gas against the demonstration
which had surrounded the public safety headquarters. Activists angered by the Floyd killing
blocked traffic to bring attention to the plight of African Americans subjected to the deadly
force that is routinely justified by the legal system.

During the course of the confrontation several police cars were damaged by angry
demonstrators from the community. Although Mayor Jacob Frey and police chief Medaria
Arradondo have attempted to distance themselves from the killing of Floyd, their statements
do not convince a significant element within the city which has witnessed such extra-judicial
executions for decades.

Minneapolis police have been the focus of mass demonstrations for many years due to brutality
and deadly force utilized against African Americans and even one Australian woman. The police
throughout the U.S. are given wide discretion in exercising the use of weapons and tactics
which often result in death.

One of the first executive orders issued by the administration of President Donald Trump was to
nullify all of the consent decrees instituted by the Justice Department related to police
misconduct. These federally-supervised consent judgements and decrees grew out of similar
incidents which resulted in the unjustified killings of African Americans, people of Latin
American descent and other oppressed communities in the U.S.

Despite the weaknesses of the consent decrees, the administration sought to send a signal to
law-enforcement that excessive and lethal force was endorsed at the highest levels of the
federal government. In this election year, where the Trump regime is desperate for its very own
political survival, the administration is fostering racism and other forms of intolerance to shore
up its own base.

Vigilante Racism in Georgia: The Brutal Death of Ahmaud Arbery

Prior to the police killing of George Floyd, the case of Ahmaud Arbery drew the attention of the
public when a video of his brutal killing was finally released on social media. Arbery had been
jogging in the vicinity of his neighborhood when he was pursued by two white men and shot to
death. Two white men, a father and son, were arrested in May and charged with felony murder
in the case.

The third person in the vehicle videotaping the incident has now been arrested and charged
with murder as well. Although the third person says that he had no role in the shooting death
of Floyd, this individual did absolutely nothing to restrain the father and son carrying out the
killing.

It would take several weeks for the fate of Arbery to receive national and world attention as a
direct result of the failure to disclose details of the actual incident by the local authorities. Since
the revelation about the unjustified shooting death large demonstrations have occurred
demanding justice for Arbery.

A hearing for the three white men is scheduled for next month. A report published by ABC
News says: “The three Georgia men charged in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery
have been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 4. Arbery, 25, was shot and killed Feb.
23 as he was jogging through the Satilla Shores, Georgia, neighborhood, but charges weren't
filed until last month. Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were charged with the
felony murder of Arbery on May 7, and William Bryan, 50, was charged May 21.”
(https://abcnews.go.com/US/hearing-set-georgia-men-charged-ahmaud-arbery-
killing/story?id=70906145)

Georgia was the center of national attention in 2018 when charges of voter suppression were
made during the gubernatorial election involving Democratic candidate and former Minority
Leader in the State House of Representatives Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who
was serving as Secretary of State at the time. Even though there was clear evidence of
deliberate disenfranchisement of African Americans in Georgia, the courts refused to declare
Abrams the winner.

Kemp was recorded earlier in the year saying he was not aware that asymptomatic COVID-19
patients could transmit the virus to others. The Georgia governor has attempted to maintain his
alliance with the Trump administration by neglecting many of the Center for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) and White House Task Force guidelines related to containing the
pandemic.

No Knock Raid on Wrong Address in Louisville Results in African American Woman’s Shooting
Death

It has been more than fifty years since the police raid on the Chicago residence of Black Panther
Party Chairman Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969. Hampton and his comrade Mark Clark of
Peoria, Illinois, were murdered by several police officers assigned to the raid by the-then Illinois
State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan.

Several other members and supporters of the BPP were wounded, arrested and falsely charged
on felony counts. The police were never held accountable in the assassinations of Hampton and
Clark. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had planted an informant in the Chicago
Chapter of the BPP whose job was to provide detailed information to the government and to
discredit the organization. The informant turned over the floor plan to the Panther apartment
and later on the night of the raid, drugged the occupants of the residence so they would be
incapable of defending themselves against the police.

On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was asleep in her
bed when a “No Knock” drug raid was carried out by Louisville, Kentucky police. The police had
conducted the operation at the wrong address. Taylor died after being shot eight times. Her
partner, Kenneth Walker, discharged his firearm during the raid and was arrested by police.
Charges against him have subsequently been dropped. (https://www.wlky.com/article/lmpd-
addresses-threats-towards-officers-in-midst-of-breonna-taylor-investigation/32679490#)

The family of Taylor is demanding justice in the horrendous law-enforcement action. The police
chief has since announced his retirement yet none of the officers have been terminated or
charged with murder. A reef laying at Taylor’s home and a rally to demand justice for the slain
woman were held on May 25-26. (https://www.wave3.com/2020/05/25/friends-family-hold-
wreath-laying-woman-shot-by-lmpd/)

Repression Will Escalate During the Current Period

The magnitude of police brutality including beatings, false arrests and killings appear to be
increasing over the last few years. Statistics on the number of people killed by the police
indicate that law-enforcement agents took the lives of more than 1,000 people in 2019. African
Americans were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.
(https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/)

Another source which monitors lethal force by police noted that: “Sadly, the trend of fatal
police shootings in the United States seems to only be increasing, with a total 228 civilians
having been shot, 31 of whom were Black, as of March 30, 2020. In 2018, there were 996 fatal
police shootings, and in 2019 this figure increased to 1,004.”
(https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/)

Irrespective of whether there is a Democratic or Republican administration in Washington, the
relationship between African Americans and the police remains unchanged. The principal role
of law-enforcement within a racist capitalist society is to protect private property and the state.
Since Black, Brown and other oppressed communities are the most exploited under the existing
system, they often suffer the brute force of the repressive apparatus.

Demonstrations and all forms of resistance against police misconduct require greater
coordination on a national and international scale. In the final analysis it will take a movement
of millions to effectively end police violence against the people along with many other forms of
state repression.
Republic of Congo Officials Eager to Learn More About TCM: Expert
By Dong Feng
Global Times
2020/5/26 23:43:35

During a knowledge exchange session between Republic of Congo officials and the Chinese Medical Mission, a high-level official encouraged the Chinese expert team to share more experience related to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Wang Junhui and his team have an on-site discussion with medical workers on Friday in the China-Republic of Congo Friendship Hospital when they carried out their last field visit before leaving for Brazzaville. Photo courtesy of Chinese Embassy in DRC

Minister of Health and Population Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo expressed her gratitude to the mission team for lending capable hands to help the Congolese fight against the epidemic. Officials from the ministry expressed great interest in the Chinese medicine treatment against the coronavirus, Wang Junhui, the mission lead assigned by Hebei Health Commission, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In response to the call for sharing more TCM knowledge, Wang said that the mission is willing to share their experience gained in China without reservation, despite the short stay.

The mission team consists of 11 medical professionals and one interpreter. On Monday afternoon, the team visited the China-Republic of Congo Friendship Hospital, where 85 Congolese medical workers were trained on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. At the training session, the experts introduced three major prescriptions and types of medicine with a remarkable curative effect, Wang said.

"We noticed that the Congolese treatment is more of one prescription for all," Wang noted, so he and his team shared the concept to customize treatment for different periods among infected patients.

Meanwhile, the team shared the prevention experience using TCM as well as in the rehabilitation period.

At the end of the training, the Chinese experts had an in-depth discussion over the combined usage of TCM and Western medicine.

The Chinese experts arrived in the Republic of the Congo on Saturday after cooperation and training sessions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since May 12.

In the past two days, the expert team has trained 155 Congolese medical professionals, Wang told the Global Times.

During their stay in the DRC, the team has exchanged experience with medical workers who are in charge of 35 regions and eight dedicated hospitals for novel coronavirus patients.

When the mission team arrived in the DRC, the daily testing capacity was in the range of 100-300, with only three testing machines working, Wang recalled. It takes one week in some areas to get the test results.

"The one week duration could also be of high risk for infection too."

The experts noticed that there were extra machines that could be used. "These were donated from China in August 2019 to the DRC for testing the Ebola virus," he said.

His teammates got into contact with the machine maker in China for installment instructions and on-site training for the medical workers. "By the time we left, the testing capacity reached almost 500 each day," Wang said.

Talking about the challenges, Wang said that during the on-site knowledge exchange sessions, he and his colleagues noticed there were chances in some hospitals to get infected while working, so they gave advice about how to change the situation.

In some areas, there are no dedicated clinics for fever symptoms, Wang added.

"We hosted an online videoconference for training in the DRC, and the session lasted more than three hours," Wang said. Many doctors asked us questions after the introduction part and they praised our help and support, he said.

The mission team took a charter flight and offered protection equipment valued at about 5 million yuan ($700,000).

"The good news is, since there are more infectious diseases in Africa, residents might have higher immunity, which is why we have not seen a pandemic situation yet," Wang said.

"The prevention and control forces are relatively strong too."

To express their gratitude, the DRC officials awarded each expert a certificate to acknowledge their contribution in fighting against COVID-19 together.

"I'm very surprised and impressed by the gesture," Wang said.

Working with their peers, the mission team had few chances to communicate with their families as there is a seven-hour time difference between the two countries.

As of Tuesday, there are 487 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of Congo.
Cities Hastily Add Pandemics to Long List of 21st-century Threats
Reuters
2020/5/19 18:18:41

In early 2018, parched by a severe drought, Cape Town rallied its residents and businesses to slash water use and stop its taps running dry. Now, lessons from the water crisis are helping the South African city respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Megaphones are being used in communities with limited online access to make residents aware of the need for social distancing and good hygiene, just as they were deployed during the drought to encourage people to conserve water.

Videos on the city's social media channels honor frontline workers in the COVID-19 crisis and urge efforts to deal with it together - messages similar to those applauding water-saving efforts two to three years ago.

And networks set up to engage businesses in a joint push to use water efficiently have been resuscitated to help them safely continue operations while containing COVID-19.

Gareth Morgan, Cape Town's director of resilience, said the city of about 4.6 million people was benefiting from what he called "crisis muscle memory."

Many of the same planners who worked on the drought response are now dealing with COVID-19 and using similar tools, such as building an index to show who is most vulnerable and developing a dashboard of metrics to track the situation.

"It is not uncommon for our city team members to regularly say in our planning meetings that we learned something during the drought and we should be cognizant of it now," Morgan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.

Harnessing experiences from previous disasters to limit the fallout from the novel coronavirus is not unique to Cape Town. And urban officials aren't keeping the real-time knowledge they are gaining from today's health crisis to themselves.

Several international networks set up to help cities cope better with modern-day challenges - from climate change to urban poverty - have sprung into action in recent weeks, to help their members respond quickly and effectively to COVID-19.

Urban experts admit that the risk of a global pandemic was not top of the list of imminent threats for the majority of cities they had worked with, before this year.

"Often our plans and strategies respond to the shock that is in our most recent memory, and that's what motivates us," said Lauren Sorkin, acting executive director of the Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN).

For many cities that has been worsening extreme weather, such as storms and heat waves, or the arrival of large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict.

Nonetheless, some cities, such as Surat in India, which suffered an outbreak of plague in 1994, have strengthened health systems as part of overall city resilience plans, Sorkin noted.

And in England, Greater Manchester, in developing its own strategy, has specifically considered what measures would be needed to respond better to a flu pandemic, including putting public information on its disaster preparedness website.

Multiple crises

Advocates of "urban resilience" say the holistic approach - which has gained traction around the world in recent years - can improve how cities handle all manner of shocks and stresses.

In trying to build resilience, cities analyze complex systems and how their different parts might be affected by a range of threats.

The aim is to keep residents, property, infrastructure and nature safe - and emerge stronger from a crisis.

"The capacity that is needed in government and administration is one in which people understand how to manage multiple crises interacting with one another simultaneously - and that's the century we're in," said Jeb Brugmann, a founding partner at Resilient Cities Catalyst, an urban consultancy.

In practice, that could mean planting trees in Parisian schoolyards to provide green, less-polluted spaces for children that are also open for local people to cool off in heat waves.

It could also mean incorporating off-grid solar power systems as medical facilities damaged by hurricanes are rebuilt in places like Puerto Rico, to lower planet-warming emissions and ensure the centers can function during disaster blackouts.

GRCN's Sorkin said city resilience strategies would likely have a larger emphasis on bolstering health systems and public health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

From New York to Madrid, London and Cape Town, cities have struggled to cope with a surge in COVID-19 patients, forcing them to set up makeshift coronavirus hospitals in parks or convention centers.

Fair, green recovery

For now, cities are sharing practical advice via online forums and webinars on everything from communicating with residents to adapting public transport and protecting at-risk groups like the elderly, Sorkin said.

Her network this month launched a platform to help cities plan a resilient recovery from the pandemic.

Another large coalition, C40 Cities, which normally supports cities working to tackle climate change has also rallied a task force of mayors to drive forward a sustainable, fair economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

"The harm caused by COVID-19 has not been equitable," the leaders of more than 35 cities, led by hard-hit Milan, noted in a statement of principles.

They called for essential workers to be "celebrated and compensated accordingly" and new policies to support people living in informal settlements, as well as efforts to tackle the climate crisis and create new jobs in low-carbon industries.

Already some cities, from Europe to Latin America, are pushing through COVID-19 recovery measures aimed at keeping carbon emissions and air pollution in check as reopenings begin, such as by closing streets to traffic and adding cycle lanes.

Former Toronto mayor David Miller, C40's director of international diplomacy, urged cities and national governments to back projects that address a range of urban problems, such as building eco-friendly affordable housing or helping low-income residents install rooftop solar-power systems.

"There are many things that cities can do to address the environmental crisis and the economic crisis coming out of this health crisis," Miller told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Milan, for example, will need to redesign its public space to reduce traffic and enable social distancing, and consider ways to ensure everyone has access to the internet.
Architect of China’s New-generation Spaceship Reveals Process of Design
Global Times
2020/5/23 15:23:40

Zhang Bainan Photo: cnsphoto

The successful return of the trial version of China's new-generation manned spaceship capsule to the Dongfeng landing site in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on May 8 marked another milestone of the China's space station program and a step closer to sending astronauts to the moon.

Zhang Bainan, chief designer of the trial version of China's new-generation manned spaceship, witnessed the success with his team members at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

Zhang was born in June 1962 in Qiqihar of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. He has consistently read Aerospace Knowledge, a science popularization magazine, since his junior high school years.

He once wrote in his diary that his dream job was working in airplane design.

All the majors he applied for after high school were aerospace-related. Growing up, he was called a "nerd" by his classmates.

After studying solid mechanics at the National University of Defense Technology, Zhang obtained his master's degree in spacecraft design from China Academy of Space Technology in 1987. Ten years later, he was appointed as deputy chief designer of China's manned spaceship. Zhang is quite content he has achieved a harmonious balance between his passion and career.

Shoot for the moon

Although the meteorological condition in the landing site was not perfect, with a big horizontal wind speed, the capsule landed standing like a champion gymnast. "Somebody said the capsule hit the center ring, which is perfect," said Zhang.

The trial version of the new-generation manned spaceship is a shuttle spacecraft to test the feasibility of multiple tasks during the future operation of China's new space station and manned lunar exploration.

According to Zhang, the new-generation manned spaceship has a much better thermal resistance than the Shenzhou spacecraft. The new manned spaceship resists temperatures up to 3,000 C, which is two to three times higher than what the Shenzhou spacecraft can resist.

As a manned moonship, it is also very light in weight. The thermal resistance layer was domestically designed from material to structure.

Zhang said the previous thermal resistant materials were not ideal and overlapped with the same products designed by other countries. Therefore, the overall plan has been overturned. "It is fair to say that thermal resistant material design in China has surpassed the US," he added.

"In developing the new-generation manned spaceship, it feels obvious that China has significantly improved its manufacturing of spacecraft, especially if you compare our latest efforts with the Shenzhou spacecraft," said Zhang. China's aerospace technology level is cutting-edge in the world, and the development of many other spacecraft and satellites benefited from improvements in our manufacturing ability, he added.

Transfer pressure into motivation

One of the purposes of the new-generation spaceship trial is to test the performance of the Long March 5B rocket to improve the precision in the follow-up autonomous control and return.

Because the capsule of the new-generation spaceship is twice as heavy as that of Shenzhou, it imposed more requirements in landing. Shenzhou used the world's biggest parachute, and it was unfeasible to add another one to the new spaceship. Therefore, Zhang and his team replaced the parachute with a parachute combination comprised of three parachutes, which proved successful.

During an interview with CCTV in March 2019, Zhang said he was doing something that had never been done by anyone else as he had previously followed other countries' experience which was less risky and led to a higher success rate. Now that China's aerospace technology is approaching the world's advanced level, its designers are facing more decisive risks.

"We are facing great pressure, so I am also exploring ways for the young people in my teams," he said. "Sometimes, I feel worried about whether they can survive the pressure, but we encourage each other a lot in the team," he said.

"One of my college classmates chose to work in the US, and he had quite a fancy life in the first few years with a big house and three vehicles. I had not owned a single car at that time," said Zhang. "When I was young, I might have valued a house and fancy cars, but as I grew older I started to answer differently the question of what I've achieved in my life."

Zhang said he strongly believes working on manned spacecraft is something meaningful that brings him a sense of achievement. "Manned space flight is a dream career, and my dream is to make the Chinese people travel farther," he said.
How Do Experts View Financial Conflict of Top Two Economies?
Global Times
2020/5/27 23:14:01

Editor's note:

Some US politicians have been relentlessly pursuing an escalation in tension with China for the sake of short-term political interests, even at the cost of the US' leading financial position in the world. With the Trump administration claiming to announce a "strong response" this week to intervene in China's domestic legislation, as well as recent US politicians' insults about Chinese companies listing on American stock markets, global investors are concerned that the US might start a "financial war" with China. In interviews with the Global Times, two Chinese economists noted that although a comprehensive financial war is not likely, conflicts is inevitable due to US politicians' political schemes, which will hurt China but will also damage US financial sectors.

Dong Shaopeng, adviser to the China Securities Regulatory Commission and senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China

Financial conflict between China and the US is inevitable given that the coronavirus pandemic has weighed on the antagonistic atmosphere globally. However, heating up financial conflict with China will bring ruinous effects to the American financial sector, which is supposed to be an open and inclusive system.

After a trade war with China initiated by the US, now the conflict has extended to financial areas. But instead of a so-called financial war, an economic war between the two economies would be more accurate.

However, the global economic integration has been shaped with countries' economic and financial factors and activities related to each other. If the US starts a "financial war," it will only lead to damage for both sides.

In terms of the market, a "war" will hinder free liquidity of financial investment in mutual directions as both China and the US have various kinds of investment in the other side. Also, there are already institutions and organizations forming a mechanism to deal with international issues through communication and cooperation, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other market regulators. The US' long-arm jurisdiction is not acceptable. Not to mention that trying to launch financial restrictions to achieve its political goals will only lead to deadlock and conflict.

Although China's financial sector has its shortcomings, it has now developed into a complete system to resist risks and serve its real economy. Defending itself from the US-initiated financial conflict would not be a problem.

The predictions of a "financial war" are not quite accurate, but there is still a risk that the US side may take extreme measures to heat up its conflict with China in financial sectors due to certain politicians' agendas.

There's no denying that China is in a weak position in the global financial market and will be hurt by a financial conflict. However, launching financial restrictions on China will not bring any benefits to the US. It is generally a political scheme by the US government and politicians trying to win an election by blaming everything on China and further stirring up an antagonistic atmosphere so as to misdirect public opinion.

China-US bilateral financial cooperation has been generating benefits for both sides. Massive Chinese companies going public in American stock markets offered a favorable investment choice for US' investors and improved the global status of its stock markets.

If the US recklessly escalates the financial conflict, it is hard to forecast how far the US government will go, and extreme scenarios involving drastically reduced financial ties with China are possible.

It will be a lose-lose choice, but it will not hurt China's overall economy. And China won't suspend its opening-up efforts of its financial industries. On the other hand, it may be an opportunity for China to speed up the internationalization of its currency, the yuan, amid cooling relations with the US.