Posts tagged with "government"

Art by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

An Interview with Vax Force

By: Matthew Anthenelli

VAX Force is a team of all-black women from Springfield, Massachusetts who are bringing vaccine awareness and accessibility to their community. Beginning earlier this spring, the COVID-19 vaccination began its rollout to non-essential workers all across the globe. Whether it be from misinformation or lack of access, many people both in the United States and worldwide have not yet been vaccinated. Studies show that many marginalized communities are lacking access to vaccination sites and other resources. There’s also a concerning percentage of the population that are receiving and spreading misinformation about the science behind the vaccine.

VAX Force is a group of amazing and inspiring black women from Springfield, Massachusetts who have taken these matters into their own hands. We were lucky enough to be able to ask VAX Force a few questions about their mission in their community. Read what they had to say below.

The initiative to spread vaccine awareness amidst an age of misinformation is such a dire and important action to take. What inspired you to form the Vax Force and take matters in your own hands?  

Springfield, MA is the largest city in Western Mass and the third largest in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts yet much of the attention and resources were being given to Boston and the Eastern part of the state so Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno took action and formed this committee so that the members could serve as direct resources for the citizens in Springfield, especially those living in vulnerable communities.  

Who are the members of the Vax force? How did you come together for this amazing and inspiring cause? 

There are wonderful leaders in public health, medicine, faith, research and diversity that are a part of Commissioner Caulton-Harris’s network .  The Mayor and the Commissioner extended invitations to join Springfield Vax Force to select individuals and they were excited to volunteer and lend their expertise, and in some cases roll their sleeves up and join our community outreach efforts.  

What groups or communities are being neglected from vaccine access the most? 

When we formed Springfield Vax Force Latinx, African-American, Caribbean, African, Vietnamese and immigrant communities did not have convenient access to the vaccine.  The vaccine was being distributed in suburban areas.  Fortunately, through the great work of Springfield Vax Force we now have access to the vaccine in all of the neighborhoods in the city.  Vaccine clinics are accessible within 1.5 miles of any neighborhood in Springfield.  

Why do you think misinformation is being spread about the vaccine? Anti-vax rhetoric was popular in the early 2000s, why do you think it returned ? 

There are anti-vaxxers using the digital platforms to spread misinformation and there are algorithms in place that widely circulate this disinformation wrapped in what looks like reputable sources, so folks are often seduced into sharing that information as if its factual – and it spreads like wildfire.  Aside from that, there is mistrust in the medical community by marginalized groups, and when those concerns that are often valid are not addressed, it provides an opportunity for anti-vaxxers to attach falsehoods to legitimate claims.  

How do you suggest that the average reader can convince loved ones or friends who may fear the side effects of the vaccine or the vaccine itself? 

The beautiful thing about social media is that is rich with narratives penned by people who have been vaccinated that are very open about their experiences and even those who have experienced the worst side effects were absolutely fine within 24 hours.  We also are over a year in and as time passes the studies become more longitudinal, so there is now evidence that supports the safety of the vaccine.  

You are making PSAs in order to inform and educate the youth on the significance of the vaccine. Do you think that the younger generation is the largest demographic of people spreading anti-vaccine misinformation or that the problem has more prevalence in older generations ? 

Older generations very quickly analyze risk versus reward when it comes to getting vaccinated and for them COVID-19 poses a far greater risk than the vaccine, and they were able to see that in real time with the death rate being more prominent in older individuals.  Additionally, older individuals have been around long enough to see the positive effects of vaccines throughout the decades and the eradication of viruses like measles, chicken pox, rubella and polio.  Individuals 45 and under are often the group spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.   

A big part of the Vax Force’s initiative had to do with the Faith and Science vaccination clinic. Do you think misinformation surrounding vaccinations is more prevalent in religious communities? 

Our research has shown that it is not. In fact, in our community, the faith leaders have been outstanding in sharing safety messages related to the COVID-19 vaccines.  

How can the average person who is already vaccinated help aid your cause? 

It’s important that we continue to be diligent with safety protocol. Being vaccinated does not mean that you are 100% protected against spreading COVID-19 or testing positive.  Although mandates are being removed, safety practices are still an individual’s right so we urge vaccinated people to remain cautious.  It also helps when vaccinated people share how seamless the process is from check in to receiving the shot, to observation.  

Where can people find out more about Vax Force and their mission? 

All the information you could possibly need can be found at the City of Springfield website

The Faith and Science event was a major success. What do you have planned next in Vax Force’s future? 

We are now targeting the young people in the City of Springfield ages 16-25. We have a young men’s and women’s basketball tournament coming up called Shot for Shot where young people who attend the tournament, receive promotional gifts and most importantly get vaccinated on site.  

The all-black VAX Force Team of Springfield, Massachusetts
Biden Harris illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Biden × Harris

Kamala Harris Will be First Vice President to be Immortalized by Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Madame Tussauds New York Releases Clay Head Sculpture Images of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Honor of Their 100th Day in Office

Kamala Harris made history when she was sworn in on January 20th becoming the first woman, first Black person and first Asian American vice president. Madame Tussauds New York is adding another first to Harris’ list of achievements by creating a wax figure in her likeness; an honor that has never-before been extended to a vice president. It’s tradition for Madame Tussauds to create a wax figure of each U.S. president. President Joe Biden’s figure was announced following the 2020 presidential election.

Madame Tussauds shared the news by releasing work-in-progress images of Biden and Harris, just ahead of their 100th day in office. The clay heads were created by a team of studio artists based in London and represent meticulous detail captured by researching hundreds of images to achieve an exact likeness of the famous U.S. leader’s faces. The heads took six weeks to sculpt, and the figures will take between four to six months to complete. “We’re honored to create a figure for Vice President Harris and reflect this significant moment in U.S. history for guests inside Madame Tussauds New York,” said Brittany Williams, spokesperson for Madame Tussauds.

President Biden and Vice President Harris’ figures will be wearing replicas of the outfits worn at the 46th presidential inauguration ceremony. President Biden’s figure will be dressed in a midnight blue Ralph Lauren suit, white dress shirt with a French cuff and a lavender tie. Madame Tussauds designers also included small, yet noteworthy details including navy and gold cufflinks with the words ‘U.S. Senator’ and a United States flag lapel pin.

The outfit for Vice President Harris’ figure was created custom for Madame Tussauds New York by Christopher John Rogers, the designer of the symbolic and elegant purple coat and dress worn at the inauguration. The look created for the figure is a replica of the blazer and dress worn by Vice President Harris on Inauguration Day for her indoor appearance and swearing in of the senators. Her gold and pearl necklace, pearl earrings, bracelets and rings will also be replicated to complete the authentic look.

Madame Tussauds plans to unveil the figures later this year and place them in the “Oval Office” experience at Madame Tussauds New York where guests can make their own history posing with Biden and Harris up close. 

The Nation cover illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original cover art Illustration by Barry Blitt) for 360 Magazine

Elie Mystal × The Nation

Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?

There is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges.

In The Nation’s latest cover story, justice correspondent Elie Mystal explains:

“While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.”

Making the case that there is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges, Mystal evaluates whether Biden can fix the courts that Trump broke: Happily, there is a solution, and that solution is to expand the lower courts.

Congress has used its constitutional authority throughout history to expand the federal judiciary. Historically, these lower court expansions were bipartisan: As the country grows in population, so does the number of lawsuits. Adding judges is just a thing we used to do to keep the judiciary running smoothly. But since 1990, when the last judgeship bill was passed, the US population has grown by a third; the number of district court cases has grown by 38 percent; and the number of cases involving a felony defendant has grown by 60 percent. The number of judges has not changed.

“I absolutely believe that if Trump had won reelection and McConnell had hung onto the Senate, Republicans would be working on court expansion right now,” writes Mystal. “There just aren’t a lot of vacancies left in the federal judiciary. Republicans can always find some casus belli for stacking the courts with conservative judges. The only question is whether Democrats will ever realize there’s a war, and they’re losing it.”

“To balance out decades of inequity, Biden’s judicial appointments shouldn’t ‘look like America;’ they should overrepresent the kinds of Americans routinely excluded by Republican administrations,” he continues. “You can’t balance a seesaw by standing in the middle when an elephant is sitting on one side.”

Read the full cover story here. Mystal, who covers the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics for The Nation, has also recently reported:

Biden’s Supreme Court Commission Is Designed to Fail

Biden’s recently announced commission to study court reform isn’t designed to offer solutions—it’s designed to be an excuse to do nothing.

How the Supreme Court Gave Cops a License to Kill

Derek Chauvin’s defense team is hoping that the 1989 Graham v. Connor ruling will be his ticket to acquittal.

The Blue Wall of Silence Is Crumbling Around Derek Chauvin

For one of the first times in memory, police are testifying against one of their own. But will it lead to an actual conviction?

ABOUT Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column, “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Mystal was previously the executive editor of Above the Law and a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton. He’s a frequent guest on MSNBC and Sirius XM. 

Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.

Digital Divide illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digitally Disconnected

DIGITALLY DISCONNECTED

13 TIPS FOR HELPING BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

While social, racial, and economic disparities have always existed within the educational system, the COVID-19 pandemic is exasperating these inequities and widening gaps between students at a drastic rate. For families who can’t afford home computers, laptops, or high-speed internet access, remote learning is nearly impossible, and for students who already found themselves struggling before the pandemic, the prospect of more than a year of lost classroom time is a devastating blow. However, there are steps parents can take to shrink this digital divide, and there are resources available via schools, non-profits, and government initiatives that can help children access the technological tools they need to succeed. Indeed, Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder of Children and Screens, notes that “the inclusion of 17.2 billion dollars for closing the ‘homework gap’ in the recently passed American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment for digital equity.”   
 
Several of the leading figures in the fields of public health, education, psychology, and parenting have weighed in with their suggestions on the best ways to combat the digital divide, and many will participate in an interdisciplinary conversation and Q&A hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on Wednesday, March 24, at 12pm ET via Zoom. Moderated by the Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center Lee Rainie, the panel will engage in an in-depth discussion about the digital divide and actionable steps we can all take to bridge the gap. RSVP here.
 
1. DON’T WAIT, ADVOCATE 

While schools across the country are doing everything they can to make sure that children have access to the technology and connectivity they need for remote learning, the unfortunate reality is that many families still lack adequate resources. If your family is among them, says author and MIT Assistant Professor of Digital Media Justin Reich, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to advocate for what your children need. “Start with your school staff,” Reich recommends. “They’re often overwhelmed during this challenging time but be polite and persistent. If you run into a dead-end with your school system, consider reaching out to school libraries and youth organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA to see what kind of support they might be able to offer.”
 
2. SCALE DOWN 

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor Dr. Wayne Journell agrees, pointing out that sometimes, despite their best efforts, teachers and administrators may not always know which students are struggling with connectivity issues. “Let teachers know if you have slow internet at home,” says Journell. “Sometimes detailed graphics and animations that look cute but have little relevance to the actual lessons being delivered can cause problems for students with unreliable internet. If teachers are aware, then they can scale down the ‘frilly’ stuff and still get the important content across.”
 
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF  

While it’s important for parents to speak up on behalf of their children, RAND Senior Policy Researcher Julia Kaufman, Ph.D., highlights the importance of encouraging children to express their needs, as well. “If your child does not have access to technology at home and is falling behind, make sure your child’s teacher knows the obstacles they’re facing and ask what accommodations will make it easier for your child to do assignments offline,” says Rand. “At the same time, help your child feel comfortable expressing any technology concerns or confusion to their teachers, including cases where they have the technology but cannot use it well.”
 
4. CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS 

One critical step that educators and policymakers can take in addressing the digital divide is to check their assumptions. They cannot – and should not – assume that students do or do not have access based solely on demographics such as family income level. “In addition, they cannot assume that providing access alone creates equity,” adds Dr. Beth Holland, a Partner at The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Digital Equity Advisor to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN). “This is a complex and nuanced challenge that needs both a technical and a human solution to ensure that students not only have access to sufficient high-speed internet and devices but also accessible systems and structures to support their learning.”

5. SURVEY AND MODIFY  

For teachers who are on the ground and in the classroom, checking your assumptions can be as simple as asking a few basic questions at the start of the term. “Survey students to determine the percentage of your population that doesn’t have home Internet access,” recommends former AAP President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Once you know the divide, you can address it,” adding, “When planning 1:1 projects and choosing devices, for example, you can consider a device’s capacity for offline use. For those without Wi-Fi, a public library in the child’s neighborhood can also be an excellent resource.”

6. VOTE FOR CHANGE 

That parents and teachers need to worry about the digital divide at all is a failure on the part of our elected leaders, says Bates College Associate Professor of Education Mara Casey Tieken. “Contact your elected officials—local, state, and federal—and complain,” she suggests. “Write letters, call their offices, attend their legislative sessions, and make your voice heard. Join with other families whose children are impacted by this divide to amplify your message and use your vote to support lawmakers who understand the impacts of this divide, have a clear plan to address it and are willing to take action.”
 
7. MAKE BROADBAND A UTILITY  

Reich agrees, reminding those families who already have their needs met that they share in the responsibility to advocate for the less fortunate. “It’s our job as citizens to demand that we as a society give families and children the tools and resources that they need for remote learning now and in the future,” says Reich. “We need to advocate for a society where broadband is treated as a utility rather than a luxury good, and young people enrolled in schools and educational programs have access to computers for learning.”

8. CONCRETE INITIATIVES  

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, advocates four concrete initiatives. “Establish a permanent broadband benefit, increase access to affordable computers, digital literacy and technical support, improve broadband mapping (including residential cost data), and support local and state digital inclusion planning.” By implementing these changes, Siefer says, policymakers can start to mitigate the digital divide. 

9. USE TECH FOR GOOD 

There are many reasons to consider equitable solutions along a “digital continuum” rather than the “digital divide;” a binary description leaves less room for nuanced and customized interventions. It may be imperative to fortify existing institutions, implement new governance structures and promulgate policies to confront disparities regarding working families. Antwuan Wallace, Managing Director at National Innovation Service, suggests that legislators consider a Safety and Thriving framework to increase family efficacy to support children with protective factors against the “homework gap” by utilizing technology to train critical skills for executive functioning, including planning, working memory, and prioritization. 
 
10. LEVEL THE FIELD 

Emma Garcia of the Economic Policy Institute emphasizes that guided technology education will be of great value after the pandemic. She says, “it will need be instituted as part of a very broad agenda that uses well-designed diagnostic tests to know where children are and what they need (in terms of knowledge, socioemotional development, and wellbeing), ensures the right number of highly credentialed professionals to teach and support students, and offers an array of targeted investments that will address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on children’s learning and development, especially for those who were most hit by the pandemic.”
 
11. APPLY FOR LIFELINE 

Research also shows that the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino, Black, and Native American students, with the expensive price of internet access serving as one of the main obstacles to families in these communities. “Eligible parents can apply for the Lifeline Program, which is a federal program that can reduce their monthly phone and internet cost,” suggests Greenlining Institute fellow Gissela Moya. “Parents can also ask their child’s school to support them by providing hotspots and computer devices to ensure their child has the tools they need to succeed.”
 
12. GET INVOLVED 

Learning remotely can be difficult for kids, even if they have access to all the technological tools they need. Research shows that parental encouragement is also an important aspect of learning for children, notes London School of Economics professor and author Sonia Livingstone. “Perhaps sit with them, and gently explain what’s required or work it out together.” She adds that working together is a great way that parents with fewer economic or digital resources can support their children. “And if you don’t know much about computers, your child can probably teach you something too!”
 
13. NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

When it comes to encouraging your children, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Reflect on the more nuanced ways your children learn and leverage accessible resources (digital and non-digital) to inspire their continued curiosity,” says University of Redlands Assistant Professor Nicol Howard. Leaning into your child’s strengths and interests will help them make the most of this challenging time.
 
While the move to remote learning may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for families that can’t afford reliable internet or dedicated devices for their kids, there are a variety of ways that parents can help connect their children with the tools they need. For those privileged enough to already have access to the necessary physical resources, it’s important to remember that emotional support is also an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to children’s educational success, especially during days as challenging as these. Lastly, it falls on all of us to use our time, energy, and voices to work towards a more just world where the educational playing field is level and all children have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their social, racial, or financial background.
 
About Children and Screens
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness. For more information, visit Children and Screens website or contact by email here.
 
The views and opinions that are expressed in this article belong to the experts to whom they are attributed, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, or its staff. 

Healthy Eating illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Food Insecurity

Michelle Obama‘s New Show Addresses Food Insecurity,

Recent Survey Findings Validate the Crisis Behind it

Six in 10 Americans have faced “food insecurity” at some point in their lives, and of those, 73% experienced it for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to this new research. The ongoing issue of food insecuritycontinues to receive more attention from celebrities and programming, like Michelle Obama’s new Waffles and Mochi show, which is directed at children to learn how to eat and prepare healthy meals. 

To understand the true impact and severity of the food insecurity crisis, recent findings from a new study launched yesterday from Feed the Children, a nonprofit dedicated to ending child hunger around the world, and Herbalife Nutrition, not only validate the crisis that’s happening today, but also shows how the U.S. compares to the rest of the world

The global survey of 9,000 respondents in 21 countries touches on families experiencing food insecurity for the first time, how they are managing to keep their families fed, along with some of their biggest concerns.


Below are a few of the U.S. stats that have come out of the survey: 

  • 73% of Americans surveyed experience food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic.
  • 31% of which have said their family has had to skip meals
  • 59% of parents are concerned their children will have lasting health effects as a result of food insecurity
  • 78% of parents rely on their child’s school meals to ensure their kids receive healthy meals
  • 63% of parents feel the government should promote flexible working hours to parents, so they can ensure their kids are eating balanced meals
Passport illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Airlines Urged to Issue Refunds

Consumer Reports & PIRG Urge Airlines to Provide Full Refunds for Flights Canceled During Pandemic as Voucher Expiration Dates Approach

Groups Call for Airlines to Extend Voucher Expiration Dates Through At Least End Of 2022

With the one-year anniversary of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown approaching, Consumer Reports and U.S. PIRG sent a letter to ten domestic airlines today calling on them to provide full refunds to consumers whose flights were canceled or affected by the pandemic.  At the very least, the consumer groups are urging airlines to extend the expiration dates for vouchers they issued for canceled flights to the end of 2022 or longer.

“Millions of Americans who booked flights in good faith in 2020 were prevented from flying because of government lockdowns and safety concerns brought on by a once-in-a-century global pandemic,” said William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser to Consumer Reports.  “The airline industry has received very generous support from taxpayers while stiff-arming its customers and treating their hard-earned dollars as interest-free loans.  It’s time to provide consumers with the long-overdue refunds they rightfully deserve.”

The consumer groups’ letter notes that complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation about airline refunds have jumped dramatically over the past year.  In 2019, consumers submitted a total of 1,574 complaints about refunds to the DOT.  Last year, that number increased 57-fold to 89,518 refund complaints.

Consumer Reports has been contacted by numerous customers frustrated that they couldn’t get a refund during lockdowns and who are concerned that they might not be able to travel before vouchers expire. An analysis by TripAction, a travel management company for businesses, found that 55 percent of vouchers for unused tickets will expire in 2021, and 45 percent will expire in 2022.

Many passengers were prevented from flying because of government restrictions, public health notices, or serious medical conditions that made flying during the pandemic unsafe. Far too many of the trips they booked will never happen, due to the cancellation (not postponement) of conferences, conventions, weddings, graduations, and family reunions.

While passengers on flights canceled by airlines are entitled to a full refund under federal law, a congressional analysis found that some carriers offered vouchers as the default option, requiring passengers to take extra steps to get a cash refund. Many airlines waited until the last minute to cancel scheduled flights, prompting concerned passengers to cancel their tickets and forfeit their legal right to a refund.

“It’s insulting and unfair that airlines haven’t offered refunds to all customers affected by the pandemic,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog Director for U.S. PIRG. “Consumers certainly couldn’t have foreseen a once-in-a-lifetime global crisis. Our research has shown that travelers whose plans got canceled have to wade through refund policies likely written by a team of lawyers. They’re faced with figuring out the difference between a flight credit or a trip credit or a travel voucher and similar offers the airlines make to avoid giving people easy-to-understand cash in their pocket.”

A Consumer Reports review of airline voucher policies found nine different policies among ten different airlines.  Many of these policies are hard to find on airline websites, and the airlines’ descriptions of their policies can be quite confusing and at times contradictory, based on conflicting rules for various dates of booking, travel, and cancellation. The consumer groups’ letter was sent to the CEOs of the following scheduled airlines: Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.

Illustration of Melania Trump and Jill Biden by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Dear Melania Trump, Our 2nd Immigrant First Lady

By Javier Pedroza

Dear Melania: Why didn’t you invite the new FLOTUS, Dr. Jill Biden, for a private tour of the White House living quarter?

“Under all circumstances, we must never desert ourselves”. – Louisa Catherine Adams, the first FLOTUS born outside of the United States of America (1825 to 1829). Historically, First Ladies are mostly respected and admired. The coveted position has been uncontroversial until 2021. 

Melania Trump, formerly known as Melanija Knavs, was born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia. At age 16, she began what would soon become a successful modeling career, appearing in many high profile ad campaigns and working with some of the best photographers in the fashion industry. In 1996, Mrs. Trump moved to New York and 10 years later she proudly became a United States Citizen. Former First Lady Melania Trump is the wife of the 45th President, Donald J. Trump and the mother to their son, Barron Trump. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States, and she is the only First Lady to become a naturalized United States citizen. 

Mrs. Trump is the first modern former First Lady to break one of the transfer-of-power rituals; welcoming the incoming president and family into the White House. This American tradition commenced in the 1920s and was respected all the way to 2017, when outgoing FLOTUS Mrs. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama hosted Mrs. Melania Trump for tea while discussing the private residence. 

“Mrs. Trump should have invited Dr. Biden in for the traditional coffee. Typically, the first lady would come prepared with questions, she’ll meet and talk to the chef, the full time residence staff and have an opportunity for them to break the ice. It’s a courtesy, but logistically it’s incredibly helpful. That didn’t happen,”Capricia Marshall told The New York Times. Capricia Marshall was the former White House social secretary in the Clinton administration. 

In 2016 when former President Barack Obama welcomed Donald and Melania Trump to the White House, Former First Lady Michelle Obama held her head up high despite Donald’s reckless lies about her husband. Michelle Obama went on instagram and described how she felt during that time, sharing that while she was “hurt and disappointed,” she accepted that “the American people had spoken.” She went on to write, “My husband and I instructed our staff to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy.” 

On January 19th, 2021 CNN reported, “Melania Trump left the White House with the worst popularity rating for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history. The latest CNN/SSRS poll had Trump’s favorable rating at 42% to a 47% unfavorable rating. The 47% is the highest unfavorable rating we ever recorded for Trump. It’s also amazingly high from a historical perspective.” 

On January 20th, another protocol was broken when neither the former President nor any member of his family attended the inauguration. The Trumps also bypassed the laying of a wreath atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony, where the Biden’s were joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and their spouses. 

As trending headlines like “Trumps’ snub of Bidens historic in its magnitude” by CNN circulated in the media early this week, we watched Melania Trump address the nation for the last time as First Lady of the United States. This was her first on camera appearance since the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol and she had not been seen in public since New Year’s Eve. During her farewell speech she spent much of her time expressing the importance of kindness. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself.” 

Was this Melania’s opportunity to demonstrate to the world that she is her own person? A proud immigrant from Slovenia who later became an American citizen who respects all aspects of what it means to be an American or perhaps Melanija Knavs has always been a Trump. 

“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” – Maya Angelou

Senate called on to include $200 billion for charities in relief package

A coalition of nonprofit groups is calling on the U.S. Senate to include a temporary emergency stimulus in its next pandemic relief package. The proposal would unlock $200 billion in charitable funds to assist charities overwhelmed by the pandemic, with updates to the laws governing private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs). The proposal would release more of the estimated $1.2 trillion they currently hold by increasing required distributions to 10 percent annually for three years.

“Nonprofits need emergency help right now. Millions of nonprofit jobs have been lost, one-third of them in health care. Up to 120,000 nonprofits are shutting down completely,” said Scott Wallace, co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation that committed to spend 20 percent of its own endowment in 2020. “We urge Congress to enact an Emergency Charity Stimulus to force philanthropies to increase their support for nonprofit organizations – immediately, urgently, and temporarily, to allow time for deployment of a vaccine and economic recovery.” 

“We are collectively facing the most dire moment that many of us have seen in our lifetimes, and it is likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the challenges that await us as a society and a planet,” said Aileen Getty, founder and president of the Aileen Getty Foundation and granddaughter of billionaire J. Paul Getty.

“While some foundations and donors are stepping up at this moment, others continue to treat the five percent payout as a ceiling not a floor,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Charity Reform Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies. ““Donors have already taken the tax break for these contributions. Congress needs to raise the bar for those donors who haven’t figured out this is no time to sit on your treasure.”

Led by the Charity Reform Initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies, Patriotic Millionaires, and the Wallace Global Fund, the groups first proposed the idea in May with a letter to Congress. The letter has now been signed by almost 800 philanthropists and leaders of foundations as well as several thousand nonprofit leaders and staff.

The proposal calls for a temporary doubling of private foundation payout from 5 percent to 10 percent for three years and would establish a similar 10 percent payout for donor-advised funds (DAFs) that currently have no mandate.

Researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies estimate these policies would unleash an estimated $200 billion in additional charity funds over three years, with no additional cost to taxpayers. The independent nonprofit sector is part of the front-line response to the pandemic and other natural disasters. The sector employs 12 million workers or more than 10 percent of the private workforce.

Prominent signers of the letter include: Scott Wallace, Wallace Global Fund (PA); Abigail Disney (NY); Aileen Getty, Aileen Getty Foundation (CA), Sara Miller, Miranda Family Fund (NY), Rory Kennedy (CA), Ning Mosberger-Tang (CO); Catherine Gund, George Gund Foundation (NY); Mary Mountcastle, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (NC); Anna Fink, Amalgamated Charitable; Ellen Friedman, Compton Fund (CA); Jerry Hirsch, Lodestar Foundation (AZ); Morris Pearl (NY); and Stephen Prince (TN). 

About the Charity Reform Initiative

The Charity Reform Initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies aims to modernize the rules governing philanthropy to increase the flow of resources to the nonprofit independent sector and protect the integrity of the tax system. 

About the Patriotic Millionaires

The Patriotic Millionaires are high-net worth Americans, business leaders, and investors who are united in their concern about the destabilizing concentration of wealth and power in America. The mission of The Patriotic Millionaires organization is to build a more stable, prosperous, and inclusive nation by promoting public policies based on the “first principles” of equal political representation, a guaranteed living wage for all working citizens, and a fair tax system. 

About the Wallace Global Fund

The mission of the Wallace Global Fund is to support people-powered movements to advance democracy and rights and to fight for a healthy planet.

Criteria to Ensure Preparedness of Federal Programs

The Strategic Stockpile Failed; Experts Propose New Approach to Emergency Preparedness

A new analysis of the United States government’s response to COVID-19 highlights myriad problems with an approach that relied, in large part, on international supply chains and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). A panel of academic and military experts is instead calling for a more dynamic, flexible approach to emergency preparedness at the national level.

“When COVID-19 hit, the U.S. was unable to provide adequate testing supplies and equipment, unable to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and didn’t have a functioning plan,” says Rob Handfield, first author of the study and Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management at North Carolina State University.

“The SNS hadn’t replenished some of its supplies since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-10. Many of its supplies were expired. And there was no clear leadership. Federal authorities punted problems to the states, leaving states to fight each other for limited resources. And the result was chaos.

“We need to be talking about this now, because the nation needs to be better prepared next time. And there is always a next time.”

To that end, Handfield and collaborators from NC State, Arizona State University, the Naval Postgraduate School and the Air Force’s Contracting Career Field Management Team came together to outline the components that are necessary to ensure that there is an adequate federal response to future health crises. They determined that an effective federal program needs to address five criteria:

1). More Flexibility: In order to respond to unanticipated threats, any government system needs to have sufficient market intelligence to insure that it has lots of options, relationships and suppliers across the private sector for securing basic needs. 

“You can’t stockpile supplies for every possible contingency,” Handfield says.

2). Inventory Visibility: The government would need to know what supplies it has, where those supplies are, and when those supplies expire. Ideally, it would also know which supplies are available in what amounts in the private sector, as well as how quickly it could purchase those supplies.

“The same is true on the demand side,” Handfield says. “What do people need? Where? When?”

3). Responsiveness: The governmental institution overseeing emergency preparation needs to have leadership that can review information as it becomes available and work with experts to secure and distribute supplies efficiently. This would be an ongoing process, rather than a system that is put in place only in the event of crises.

4). Global Independence: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that the U.S. has outsourced manufacturing of critical biomedical materiel, because it was cheaper. Authorities need to consider investing in domestic manufacturing of PPE, testing supplies and equipment, pharmaceutical chemicals, syringes, and other biomedical supplies.

“The past year has really driven home the consequences of being dependent on other nations to meet basic needs during a pandemic,” Handfield says. “Relying largely on the least expensive suppliers for a given product has consequences.”

5). Equitable: The government needs to ensure that supplies get to where they are most needed in order to reduce the infighting and hoarding that we’ve seen in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A first step here is to settle on a way of determining how to prioritize needs and how we would define an equitable allocation and distribution of supplies,” Handfield says.

The last ingredient is bureaucratic: Coordinating all five of these components should be done by a permanent team that is focused solely on national preparation and ensuring that the relevant federal agencies are all on the same page.

“This is a fundamental shift away from the static approach of the SNS,” Handfield says. “We need to begin exploring each of these components in more detail – and defining what a governing structure would look like. We don’t know how long we’ll have until we face another crisis.”

The paper, “A Commons for a Supply Chain in the Post-COVID-19 Era: The Case for a Reformed Strategic National Stockpile,” is published open access in The Milbank Quarterly. The paper was co-authored by Blanton Godfrey, the Joseph D. Moore Distinguished Professor in NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles; Major Daniel Finkenstadt of the Naval Postgraduate School; Eugene Schneller of Arizona State; and Peter Guinto of the Air Force’s Contracting Career Field Management Team.

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The difference between wrongful death and manslaughter

If your family has experienced an accident or incident that resulted in the death of a loved one, you may want to know how you can legally settle the matter to see justice done on the deceased’s behalf. Many of these unfortunate cases are classified as manslaughter or wrongful death. You’ll need to know which is which so you can go through the proper legal procedures to get the compensation you and your other surviving family members are entitled to.

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death settlement offers a degree of safety to grieving families. This is particularly the case if the family member who passed away was a significant breadwinner in the family. The settlement allows families to restore themselves financially, such as paying for medical bills associated with the family member’s death or paying to replace a vehicle that was used in the family member’s fatal car accident.

Wrongful death law pertains to cases in which the actions of one person led to the death of someone else. This law is in place to ensure dependents and family members of the deceased who are financially affected by the relative’s death will be compensated.

Wrongful death claims can cover all types of fatal incidents, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, construction accidents, product liability cases, and elevator accidents. For the defendant to be held responsible for a wrongful death, the plaintiff has to provide evidence that the victim would not have died if the defendant were not negligent.

Wrongful death is considered a civil lawsuit. It’s important to note that a family can also file a wrongful death claim if the victim is injured at work or in a car accident, hospitalized for the injuries, and later dies because of them.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter charges can be filed if an individual did not intend to kill, but their negligence resulted in the death of another individual. Manslaughter in the first degree is when someone intentionally inflicts harm on someone else, and that harm or injury resulted in the victim’s death. Manslaughter in the second degree happens when a person causes someone else’s death because of recklessness. 

If a person is aware that they are acting recklessly and ignore the risk of hurting or killing others, they are guilty of manslaughter, which is a criminal charge. Even though the defendant doesn’t have an intent to kill, their decision to act irresponsibly could be fatal for someone else.

For instance, if someone is driving at night and doesn’t turn their headlights on, and this decision results in the death of another driver or pedestrian, the driver is guilty of manslaughter. Or, if a doctor recklessly performs a procedure on someone with health conditions that increase their risk of death from the procedure, the doctor can be charged with manslaughter.

How Are Cases Conducted?

If a person is guilty of manslaughter, the federal or state government will prosecute them. The jury starts a trial assuming the defendant is innocent. The prosecutor has to present evidence that shows the defendant was behaving recklessly and caused another person’s death. If the defendant is found guilty, they will have to pay hefty fines and may have to serve a prison sentence.

Wrongful death cases occur in civil court. The close family members of the deceased usually file the charges. Since this is not a criminal case, wrongful death attorneys do not have to prove innocence or guilt beyond a doubt. The lawyer does, however, need to show adequate evidence to sway the jury. If the defendant is deemed guilty, they will have to pay for damages, which include funeral and burial expenses, loss of the deceased individual’s income, medical bills, and damages.

If you need to file a wrongful death claim, it’s important to start working with an attorney as soon as you can. Submit all evidence of your case to your lawyer so they can start working on your behalf to ensure that you and your family get the best settlement possible.