The English Touring Opera has just fired 14 of its musicians because they are white

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/columnists/2021/09/19/sacking-white-members-english-touring-opera-shows-woke-will/

The sacking of white members of the English Touring Opera shows how woke will destroy the arts

I for one would never go to watch an orchestra just because it had been lauded for diversity

By Zoe Strimpel

September 19, 2021

As a child and teenager in Boston, USA, I played in various orchestras. I didn’t much like it, largely because I found it boring, thankless and tiring. Rehearsals were long. Sometimes I didn’t like the music that had been selected: why had the conductor chosen another obscure piece by César Franck? But one thing that I had the luxury of never having to worry about was the ethnic makeup of the players and my own fate auditioning as a young white girl. As it happened, in the youth orchestra scene back then, the top symphonies and seats were dominated by children whose parents were Russian or Chinese. This was not a source of much comment; it’s just how it was.

Since then, we have sunk into such a quagmire of identity politics that even orchestras are now selecting players not because they are the best, but because of their skin colour. The English Touring Opera (ETO) has dropped 14 white musicians in order to increase the ‘diversity’ of the company. Aged between 40 and 60, they’ve been told their contracts will not be renewed because of ‘diversity guidance’ from Arts Council England, which gives the ETO £1.78 million a year.

Arts Council England, one of the most woke funding bodies in the land, protested lamely, arguing that it never meant to get players sacked. “We are now in conversation with ETO to ensure no funding criteria have been breached,” it said. Err. Perhaps this has been a valuable wake-up call for the Arts Council: what did it expect? If you insist on exporting the warped logic of critical race theory, pressuring arts organisations to prioritise skin colour over all else, you can hardly be surprised when they respond like this. If the ETO’s policy of race-based contract non-renewal smacks of the kinds of policies my own grandparents faced in post-Nuremberg Laws Germany, then that is entirely the fault of the institutional bigwigs slurping away at the woke Kool-Aid.

The hideous optics of the ETO debacle offer a particularly stark reminder of how in the era of wokedom, the arts are doomed. Sure, the arts have a social component, but they are fundamentally rooted in creativity and talent, and they must delight, rivet or intrigue. They are not meant to be primarily didactic. I for one would never go to watch an orchestra just because it had been lauded for diversity. I would never read a book because it had been commissioned as part of a ‘diversity and inclusion programme’ and I would never admire a work of art simply because it had emerged from a person of the right colour. Yet such ideas are gaining popularity: earlier this summer, Labour MP Janet Daby, a former shadow minister for faiths, women and equalities, put to then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden the merits of issuing “mandatory diversity quotas” for artists that appear in publicly funded galleries like Tate Britain. Thankfully, that quota hasn’t yet been mandated, but under a different government it might well be.

If the ETO rejig seems particularly shocking, the arts have in fact been at it for ages. Back in 2018, Penguin Random House sent a stern email round to agents and employees: the new commissioning policy would have to fall into line with diversity targets, with diversity defined by sexual identity, skin colour and whether one was able-bodied or not. The “company-wide goal” was “for both our new hires and the authors we acquire to reflect UK society by 2025”. Aside from the utter madness of assuming that the percentage of people able to write excellent books should map onto the demographic makeup of British society, this dictum showed that from now on, the narrowest, most box-ticking form of ‘diversity’ – what you are rather than who you are – would determine Penguin’s contribution to literature.

The sprawling diversity and inclusion drives our funding bodies, arts organisations and publishers, who have fallen over themselves to instigate from part of a broader domain of deranged and misapplied moral virtue. One aspect of this became particularly apparent during #MeToo, when man after man found to have a polluted past was chopped from ballet companies, films and comedy careers. I can see why men who sexually molest women might be kicked out of offices. But films? Ballet shows?

A couple of years ago I did a debate at the Oxford Union, arguing that art should not be judged by the biography of the artist, because on that score, there would be no art at all from any time before about five minutes ago. But also because it’s simply wrong: it flattens creative work, with all its many and unpredictable interpretations, into something chilly, Manichean and moralistic.

We won the debate, but only just: there were many who were adamant that art was indistinguishable from the moral virtue of its creator. For today’s arts institutions, virtue and the skin colour of artists have become one and the same thing. Not only is this an immoral equation, as the ETO clearout showed with crystal clarity, but it’s a death knell for the very notion of artistic quality.

October 16, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Cancel culture, Dumbing down, Music, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

FSO – Star Wars Episode IV – “Here they come!” (John Williams)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJaz5XhSjwc

October 14, 2021. Tags: , , . Movies, Music, Star Wars. Leave a comment.

John Williams & Wiener Philharmoniker – “Main Title” from “Star Wars: A New Hope”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54hoKbTWon4

October 12, 2021. Tags: , , . Movies, Music, Star Wars. Leave a comment.

Cuba lashes out after young baseball players defect in Mexico

https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/03/americas/cuban-baseball-players-defect-intl/index.html

Cuba lashes out after young baseball players defect in Mexico

By Patrick Oppmann

October 3, 2021

Havana (CNN) Cuba’s state media on Sunday lashed out after nearly a dozen Cuban baseball players defected in Mexico — believed to be one of the country’s largest and most embarrassing known incidents of mass defection in years.

Eleven young baseball players defected from the national team during a tournament for players under the age of 23, which began last month. The remaining Cuban players on the team are due to return to the communist-run island on Monday.

A statement from Cuba’s National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) slammed the missing players for “weak morals and ethics.”

Cuban officials also blamed the US for restrictions that force Cuban players to defect in order to play in the Major Leagues.

Typically only the players who are seen as most loyal to the government are selected to play abroad and are accompanied by government chaperones to prevent them from defecting.

Cuba has been hard hit economically during the pandemic with few tourists visiting and restrictions on international flights which has prevented many Cubans from leaving the island.

October 9, 2021. Tags: , , . Communism, Immigration. Leave a comment.

America’s big cities are turning into housing catastrophes. If we want to fix this mess, we should try and copy Tokyo.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/americas-big-cities-turning-housing-120600526.html

America’s big cities are turning into housing catastrophes. If we want to fix this mess, we should try and copy Tokyo.

By Jairaj Devadiga

October 9, 2021

Tokyo

A view of residential houses in Tokyo, Japan.

In major cities around the world, housing is becoming less and less affordable.

Tokyo, Japan, is a notable exception, with prices barely rising since 1995.

The US has restrictive, often absurd regulations, and should instead mirror Tokyo.

Jairaj Devadiga is an economist specializing in public policy and economic history.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

In major cities around the world, housing prices have spiraled out of control.

In California’s Bay Area, the median house price is $1.3 million. In Vancouver, the average household must save for 34 years to make a down payment on a house, and put aside 85% of its pre-tax income for mortgage payments. In Sydney, a decrepit house without any toilet facilities sells for $3.5 million.

In this sea of craziness, Tokyo has been an island of sanity. Its housing prices have barely risen since 1995. This is not due to deflation either.

While the population of Japan as a whole has been shrinking, Tokyo has been growing. Between 1995 and 2019, the population of Tokyo grew by 2.17 million, or just above 90,000 per year on average. To accommodate all these new people, lots of housing had to be built. Over the same time period, there was an average of 153,000 housing starts annually.

A study by the Fraser Institute illustrates what happens when housing supply fails to keep up with demand. Between 2015 and 2019, 120,000 new jobs were created in Vancouver and Toronto. In the same time period, there were only 57,000 housing starts every year. Since demand was growing more than twice as fast as supply, prices skyrocketed. The same story played out in almost every major city. Lots of new jobs being created, lots of people wanting to move, and not enough homes being built for all of them.

There are numerous bad policies which prevent the construction of more housing. Chief among them are restrictive zoning laws. In most cities with expensive housing, vast swathes of residential land are reserved exclusively for single family homes. Until very recently, the worst of the bunch was San Jose, with 94% of the land being off limits for apartment buildings. No wonder it is the least affordable city in America.

Not only does this make housing costlier for middle and low income folks, but also subsidizes mansions for the rich. The land on which a mansion sits would be worth a lot more if an apartment building could be built on it. The developer would make a profit even if they sold each apartment at an affordable price.

However, because that’s not allowed, developers won’t bid for that land, thus driving down its price.

While Tokyo does have low density zones, these do not prohibit multi-family buildings. Thus it is not uncommon to see a three story apartment building right next to a single family home.

Apart from zoning, cities dictate minimum lot sizes and maximum floor area ratios (how much of the plot is covered by the building itself), which further stifle construction. In much of Mumbai, for instance, the floor area ratio was capped at 1.33 until 2018.

This had the disastrous result of pushing poor people into slums, as they could not compete with affluent families for the limited housing. In 1971, 22% of Mumbai’s population lived in slums. By 2010, this had risen to 62%. By contrast, Tokyo allows floor area ratios as high as 13, and even higher with government permission.

Another problem is cities wanting to preserve too many historical sites. For instance, cities often declare old homes or commercial establishments to be historical monuments, which prevents them from being torn down and replaced with apartment buildings.

In some cases, cities prevent development even when the historical monument itself would be untouched. For instance, last year, a historic preservation board in Seattle rejected a proposal for a 200-unit apartment building because it would be taller than nearby historical monuments. While Tokyo has historic buildings, its criteria for preservation are much stricter and thus don’t get in the way of affordable housing.

Another important factor in raising housing prices is over-regulation. A recent report by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that regulations add almost $94,000 to the price of new homes. The vast majority of these regulations are purely aesthetic, such as mandating certain types of landscaping and architectural styles, or banning vinyl sidings.

This is not exclusive to American cities. A study on India’s Ahmedabad shows that unnecessary regulations add 34% to the cost of housing. By contrast, Tokyo has very few common sense regulations; mainly to protect against the frequent earthquakes. As long as developers follow these and the very liberal zoning laws, they are free to build as they please.

At this point, you might wonder why these restrictive rules persist if they are so obviously bad. Why is liberal city-planning the exception, rather than the norm? To answer this, we must examine the policy making process itself, to understand the motivations of all participants.

Consider San Jose, with its 94% single-family zoning. The politicians in San Jose were catering to the wishes of their constituents; the people already living in San Jose. Those voters wanted high prices. To them, their house is an investment, which would lose value if more housing were built in their neighborhood. It would also result in new neighbors bringing in a different culture from what the residents are used to.

People who wanted to move to San Jose, but couldn’t due to high prices, would benefit from more liberal planning. They might live in different parts of California, or even in other states. Obviously they don’t get to vote in San Jose elections, thus local politicians have no incentive to help them.

The same process plays out across every city, resulting in sky-high prices.

At the state or national level, though, the political calculus changes completely. People in a particular city might want to restrict housing development, but everyone else wants more. Thus state and national politicians have an incentive to liberalize.

This is exactly what happened in Japan. It too had local governments choking the housing market, resulting in a massive housing bubble in the 1980s. This prompted the national government to enact a series of reforms to rein in housing prices.

The national government formulates building codes, zoning laws, and other city-planning regulations for the entire country, giving very little leeway to local governments.

Recently, governor Gavin Newsom did something similar in California, by finally abolishing single-family zoning statewide, and also loosening some other restrictions.

To win elections, local politicians must necessarily keep down the supply of new housing. It is up to state and national governments to deny them that power, and quickly. Otherwise, home-ownership will remain a pipe-dream for most people.

October 9, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Economics, Housing. Leave a comment.

WASTED ON THE WAY – CROSBY, STILLS, AND NASH (Kudyapi Band Social Distancing Cover)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovoXNhuds7s

October 4, 2021. Tags: , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Billy Howse and his friend perform “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0GtJl2rDiI

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Racists at this Minnesota middle school are dumbing down the academic standards for black students

https://www.foxnews.com/us/untraditional-grading-scale-implemented-at-minnesota-middle-school

Minnesota middle school will eliminate ‘F’s to combat ‘systemic racism’

The system, announced during the 2021-22 school year, does not include 0-49.9 percentiles for students

By Pilar Arias

October 1, 2021

A YouTube video posted by Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, details a new grading scale that lacks the letter “F.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9LYheOKda0

The system, announced during the 2021-22 school year, does not include 0-49.9 percentiles for students.

“Our whole intent is to ensure that grades focus on the process of learning,” Principal Christina Pierre said in the video. “Therefore, grades will not include behaviors, attitude, tardiness to class, whether the assignment was turned in late or on time. There’s other ways that we can communicate those things to parents.”

Associate Principal Norman Bell went on to elaborate that students are encouraged to retake/revise tests, quizzes, papers, projects and have a 10-day window to do so from the date the grade is posted.

Sunrise Park Middle School serves students in grades sixth through eighth in the White Bear Lake Area Schools, ISD 624. It is located in a suburb of St. Paul. 

Fox News reached out to the district to see if the grading scale would be implemented at middle schools district wide, which only includes one additional campus, but has yet to hear back.

The district’s superintendent, Wayne Kazmierczak, was named Minnesota Association of School Administrators 2021 Superintendent of the Year.

The school website discussing the award details how the district conducted an “equity audit,” which showed grading disparities among students of color.  

“Grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequities are perpetuated. Dr. Kazmierczak and WBLAS believe grades should be a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in a given course. Grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home,” the website reads. 

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Racist UCLA wants lower academic standards for black students. This professor had the courage to oppose this racist policy. UCLA fired him for it.

https://justthenews.com/government/courts-law/professor-removed-refusal-grade-black-students-easier-after-george-floyd

Professor removed after refusal to grade black students on a curve sues UCLA

Gordon Klein claims he lost $10 million consulting business after UCLA said he violated its “core values.”

By Greg Piper

September 29, 2021

A lecturer removed from the classroom after refusing to grade on a racial curve is now suing UCLA and his dean for costing him at least $500,000 in consulting contracts in just the past year — and an estimated $10 million long term.

Gordon Klein also accused the public university, where he’s taught accounting since 1981, of retaliation by halting his long string of merit-pay increases after his email response to a student went viral.

It has ignored his requests for security escorts in light of “serious physical threats,” including anti-Semitic death threats he reported as recently as March, Klein alleges. He said a psychiatrist diagnosed him with PTSD last summer. 

UCLA and its Anderson School of Management engaged in a “disingenuous publicity stunt to promote that it was at the forefront of rooting out racism” and to chill the speech of Klein and other faculty, the state lawsuit alleges. 

Klein claims breach of contract, violation of privacy, retaliation and “negligent interference with prospective economic advantage,” and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages. 

Student activists had been threatening harassment against faculty in multiple UCLA schools if they didn’t offer black students preferential treatment, including “no-harm” final exams, following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

(more…)

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Dumbing down, Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Black woman in Douglasville accused of pretending to be white man, threatening neighbors

https://www.cbs46.com/news/black-woman-in-douglasville-accused-of-pretending-to-be-white-man-threatening-neighbors/article_4ccc0a7a-216c-11ec-bdef-3bd5aa74a0ef.html

Black woman in Douglasville accused of pretending to be white man, threatening neighbors

By Joyce Lupiani

September 30, 2021

ATLANTA (CBS46) — A 30-year-old Douglasville woman named Terresha Lucas has been charged with making terroristic threats in the Brookmont subdivision of Douglasville.

According to the Douglasville Police Department, residents on Manning Drive began receiving notes last December from a person who claimed to be a white male member of the Ku Klux Klan. The notes threatened to burn down homes and kill people.

The police department’s investigation into the notes led them to Lucas, who is a Black woman.

Lucas, who described herself as a 6-foot tall, white male with a long, red beard, has been charged with 8 counts of making terroristic threats.

The first notes were received Dec. 21, 2020. Other notes were received Feb. 17, Feb. 22, March 1 and March 3. After a 6-month absence, a final note was received Sept. 6.

CBS46 reported in March that the notes were received by at least 7 Blacks who lived in the neighborhood and that the notes contained the N-word and talked about hanging people and killing kids.

Until Sept. 6, Douglasville PD says it did not have much to go on. However, they got the break they needed on Sept. 6 when evidence was found linking the notes to the home of Lucas. Detectives were able to obtain a search warrant and then found other evidence that ties Lucas to the notes.

Lucas is expected to turn herself in this week.

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Fake hate crimes, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Russell Brand: So…Trump was RIGHT About Clinton & Russia Collusion!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k6X03XvxWw

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , . Donald Trump, Media bias. 1 comment.

Far Left Judge Marie Avery Moses Issues Protective Order on Eric Coomer’s Deposition After He Comes Across as Completely Unhinged – But Not on Defendants Including The Gateway Pundit

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/09/far-left-judge-marie-avery-moses-issues-protective-order-eric-coomers-deposition-comes-across-completely-unhinged-not-defendants-including-gateway-pundit/

Far Left Judge Marie Avery Moses Issues Protective Order on Eric Coomer’s Deposition After He Comes Across as Completely Unhinged – But Not on Defendants Including The Gateway Pundit

By Jim Hoft

September 30, 2021

What double standard?

The American left is out to destroy the justice system in the country today.

Attorney Sidney Powell announced during an interview last week that her legal team will depose Dominion’s Eric Coomer for questioning later in the day.

Coomer sued several Trump supporters, media outlets and media personalities following the 2020 presidential election, including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Michelle Malkin, Joe Oltmann, The Gateway Pundit and Jim Hoft, among others.

Eric Coomer was deposed for an hour by Powell’s attorneys last week.

From what we are hearing it was a complete disaster. The Dominion executive came across completely unhinged and angry.

That’s when far left Judge Marie Avery Moses stepped in to protect Eric Coomer.

Judge Moses issued a Protective Order that only grants secrecy to Eric Coomer’s deposition – but not anyone else’s.

According to our confidential source, “The Judge issued this order sua sponte, which means that no one asked her to do this. She just did it on her own the day after Coomer gave a train-wreck deposition in which he was very clearly emotionally unstable, arrogant, and repeatedly failed to give direct answers to questions. He was clearly playing games and his testimony is simply not credible.”

The media is now blocked from downloading his testimony.

One wonders how the Judge came to this conclusion – the day after Coomer’s deposition – that his deposition transcript needed to be sealed.

What happened to integrity, honesty and justice in America?

Here is the court order by Judge Moses.

October 1, 2021. Tags: , . Stop the steal, Voter fraud. 1 comment.

Video: Dr. Rand Paul vs lawyer Xavier Becerra, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, who does not have a degree in medicine or science, and is a complete idiot when it comes to the subject of natural immunity for people who have been infected with COVID-19

Rand Paul is a medical doctor.

Xavier Becerra is a lawyer who has no degree in medicine or science. Despite this, he is the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In this video, Dr. Paul explains why Becerra is a complete idiot when it comes to the subject of natural immunity for people who have been infected with COVID-19.

Dr. Paul also explains why Becerra is a totalitarian control freak who has no respect for individual freedom.

Video at https://www.bitchute.com/video/ycvexzjfEVsq/

October 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . COVID-19, Health care. 1 comment.

Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids play “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MQ10Dq410I

September 30, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by the Who

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7evJQKNKUBw

September 30, 2021. Tags: , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Parkway Central student who admitted to racist graffiti is Black, district says

https://www.kmov.com/news/parkway-central-student-who-admitted-to-racist-graffiti-is-black-district-says/article_0502ed04-1d88-11ec-b152-073c66b59b31.html

Parkway Central student who admitted to racist graffiti is Black, district says

By Caroline Hecker

September 28, 2021

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — A Parkway Central High School student has admitted to writing racist graffiti on the walls of a bathroom, according to district officials.

The student was identified through an investigation and later admitted to the vandalism, according to a letter from principal Tim McCarthy sent to parents Friday evening. Monday, the district said the student responsible for the incident is Black, but said in a letter, “however, this does not diminish the hurt it caused or the negative impact it has had on our entire community.”

The announcement comes days after graffiti was found in bathrooms at both Central High and North High on Wednesday. On Friday, several hundred students at Parkway North High School walked out of school, demanding change and accountability for those responsible.

“We were all just listening to people talking and hearing what they had to say and what we wanted to change and listening to people’s voices being heard,” said Christian Willis, a freshman at Parkway North.

Students who were involved in Friday’s walkout said it was peaceful, as they took time to listen to each other and school administrators allowed students to voice their concerns.

“I think there’s quite a bit of decency in people, most people that I can tell you of, they’re really good people, especially deep down in heart,” said senior Tyler Thomas. “Even if they don’t like certain things, they’re good people at heart.”

Aisha Goodman Hamilton has a sophomore son at Parkway North and stopped by the school to watch the walkout from afar.

“My hope is that there’s action that comes out of this. I hope the students aren’t left with lip service, I hope there’s an actionable plan to deal with these issues, I want zero tolerance,” she said.

She admitted she’s worried about what is going on inside the school and hopes her son and children like him can remain safe.

“I’m just very angry that they have to continue to do these things, that they’re thrust into this,” she said. “My parents marched in the 60s and 70s and its 2021 and we’re still doing these same things.”

The investigation into the racist graffiti found at North High is ongoing, according to the district.

The two incidents this week are not the first time similar vandalism has been found inside a Parkway school. Many students said they feel nothing is being done to stop it from happening.

District officials, however, said disciplinary action is taken, but privacy laws prevent other students from learning about what happens to those involved.

The student held responsible for the graffiti at Central High School will be subject to disciplinary measures as is outlined by the district’s discipline policy, which could range from suspension to expulsion.

September 29, 2021. Tags: , , , . Fake hate crimes, Racism, Social justice warriors. 2 comments.

Western Washington University establishes separate housing for ‘diversity of Black and African American’ people

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/university-western-washingtion-black-affinity-housing

University establishes separate housing for ‘diversity of Black and African American’ people

By Luke Gentile

September 28, 2021

A Washington university established a housing program for black students to examine their culture separate from the influence of other races, according to the program’s description on the school’s website.

Western Washington University transformed the fourth floor of its Alma Clark Glass Hall into Black Affinity Housing, the website states.

“The program explores and celebrates the diversity of Black and African American people and culture , with historical and contemporary context,” its description reads.

The Alma Clark Glass Hall was chosen for Black Affinity Housing because it was named after the first black student to attend the university .

“All Western students residing in the program help foster a warm and vibrant community supporting social, personal and academic success,” the website states.

Residents of Black Affinity Housing can expect to engage in intermittent community programming, according to the website.

September 29, 2021. Tags: , , , . Education, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Germany’s phaseout of nuclear power is causing an increase in the use of fossil fuels, which is causing more than 1,100 additional deaths each year

This is a quote from a scientific paper on Germany’s phaseout of nuclear power:

“Put another way, the phase-out resulted in more than 1,100 additional deaths per year from increased concentrations of SO2, NOx, and PM. The increase in production from hard coal plants is again the key driver here, making up roughly 80% of the increase in mortality impacts.”

Source: Page 25 at this link https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w26598/w26598.pdf

Either the people who support this phaseout are extremely illiterate when it comes to science, or they are deliberately killing these people. I wonder which one it is.

September 29, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

House Passes EQUAL Act to Erase Sentencing Disparity Between Crack and Powder Cocaine

https://reason.com/2021/09/28/house-passes-equal-act-to-erase-sentencing-disparity-between-crack-and-powder-cocaine/

House Passes EQUAL Act to Erase Sentencing Disparity Between Crack and Powder Cocaine

The Senate now has the chance to finally end one of the most disastrous legacies of the drug war.

By C.J. Ciaramella

September 28, 2021

The House of Representatives passed legislation today that would finally erase the sentencing disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine offenses.

By a wide bipartisan vote of 361-66, the House passed the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law (EQUAL) Act, H.R. 1693. The legislation would reduce the penalties for federal crack cocaine offenses to the same level as those for powder cocaine offenses, and it would make those changes retroactive, meaning federal crack offenders currently serving prison sentences will be eligible to have their sentences reduced.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), where it faces a less certain future. The White House endorsed the legislation in June, and if it passes Congress, the law would close the book on one of the most regrettable pieces of President Joe Biden’s legacy.

In 1986, then-Sen. Biden (D–Del.) co-sponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, one of the most disastrous laws passed in the 1980s by lawmakers posturing as tough-on-crime. The law created a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenders, the former of whom were predominantly black. The result was that someone possessing five grams of crack cocaine would receive the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as someone with 500 grams of powder cocaine, despite there being little to no pharmacological difference between the two substances. 

The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that black people made up nearly 77 percent of all federal crack cocaine convictions in fiscal year 2020.

Criminal justice advocates have lobbied for decades to roll back the law. In 2007, Biden endorsed legislation that would have completely eliminated the disparity. A compromise bill, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, reduced it from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1.

In 2018, the FIRST Step Act made the Fair Sentencing Act’s reductions retroactive, leading to the release of roughly 3,000 federal crack offenders. 

One of the first to receive a sentence reduction under the FIRST Step Act was Matthew Charles, who was released from prison in 2019. Charles was sentenced in 1995 to 35 years in federal prison for a crack cocaine offense.

“If crack and powder were treated the same, my sentence could have been 15 years, not 35,” Charles testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this June. “But the 100-to-1 disparity was in place at that time, and I honestly didn’t seem like someone who deserved a break.”

Inside prison, Charles found religion, turned around his life, and became a model inmate. He is now a criminal justice reform advocate.

The EQUAL Act, introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.), benefited from broad bipartisan support in the House. Conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R–Tex.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a letter supporting the legislation that the federal sentencing disparity was “unfair and unnecessary for public safety.”

“I never saw a need for a cocaine sentencing disparity in Texas, and I see no need for a cocaine sentencing disparity federally,” said Gohmert, a former Texas state judge.

However, the legislation faces a much tougher road in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Sioux City Journal last week that there’s not as much Republican support in the Senate for eliminating the sentencing disparity. He doubts that he and Sen. Dick Durbin (D–Ill.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, can muster the 60 votes needed to get the Equal Act to the Senate floor.

“Does that mean that there’s not some possibility for compromise? I would be open to that, but I’m going to have to get enough Republicans to go along to make sure we don’t scuttle the other good provisions we have,” Grassley told the newspaper.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), of the staunchest defenders of mandatory minimum sentencing in Congress, wrote an op-ed in National Review last week suggesting that the proper solution to the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, if it must be changed, is to raise the sentences of powder cocaine offenses to match those of crack.

Criminal justice groups and civil liberties advocates applauded the passage of the bill in the House.

“For 35 years, the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, based on neither evidence nor science, has resulted in higher sentences that are disproportionately borne by Black families and communities,” Aamra Ahmad, ACLU senior policy counsel, said in a press release. “We applaud the House for passing the EQUAL Act, which will finally end that disparity, including for thousands of people still serving sentences under the unjust disparity who would now have the opportunity to petition courts for a reduced sentence.”

September 29, 2021. Tags: , . Racism, War on drugs. Leave a comment.

“Equity” is being cited as a reason to ban white people from getting the vaccine for COVID-19

https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-hampshire-resident-files-discrimination-175506783.html

White New Hampshire Resident Files Discrimination Suit after Being Denied COVID Shot over Race

By Brittany Bernstein

September 28, 2021

A white New Hampshire resident who was refused a COVID-19 vaccine by the state earlier this year because he is not a person of color and thus did not meet its “equity” requirements has filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) and Boyden Gray & Associates filed the complaint on Tuesday on behalf of the unnamed 28-year-old man, who was unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in April despite having diabetes and therefore being at “elevated medical risk to COVID-19,” according to the complaint.

When the man called the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley in Lebanon, N.H. to schedule a shot, he was informed that they were “only serving people of color” at that time, in line with the state’s equitable vaccine distribution policies.

Meanwhile, the complaint says appointments at a vaccination clinic held by the Public Health Council were reserved for people who identify as “Black, Indigenous or people of color,” regardless of whether those individuals were at an elevated risk for severe COVID-19. The Dartmouth college newspaper reported that the clinic provided vaccinations to young Asian college students despite denying vaccination to those at high risk.

“No one seeking medical care should ever be sent to the back of the line because of their race, but that is exactly what the state of New Hampshire did with COVID-19 vaccinations. HHS must investigate and hold New Hampshire accountable for its blatantly illegal discrimination,” said Rachel Morrison, an attorney and policy analyst for EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project.

The complaint notes that the state has received “substantial funds” from the federal government, including over $500 million from HHS to administer its health programs and $43 million to support vaccination specifically.

“Using these funds in a discriminatory manner is a violation of federal law, as New Hampshire is well aware,” the complaint reads. “The state’s official COVID-19 resource website linked to HHS’s March 2020 Bulletin which states that civil rights laws are not suspended during the pandemic and that ‘our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life.’”

It notes that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibit racial discrimination in HHS-funded programs and argues that HHS’s Office for Civil Rights has a responsibility to investigate the complaint.

The complaint asks the Office of Civil Rights to “seek a binding voluntary resolution agreement with all the guilty parties.”

“This agreement should include appropriate remedial action, training, and ongoing monitoring of respondents by your office,” the complaint adds.

It demands that HHS stop funding the state and the public health council until it receives a written guarantee that they won’t discriminate on the basis of race.

“Although it is unclear if the state continues to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin, at least as late as June 27, 2021, the state’s main COVID vaccine website continued to state that ‘appointments are limited’ and ‘dependent on [vaccine] supply,’ which left open the door to state discriminating against whites,” the complaint adds.

Attorney Michael Buschbacher said the state’s “racially discriminatory vaccination program is a disaster.”

“The health officials responsible have done grave harm both to the vulnerable people forced to wait for a life-saving vaccine because of their skin color and to the practice of medicine,” he said. “New Hampshire’s guilt is gin clear, and HHS needs to take prompt and aggressive action to ensure that such illegal discrimination never happens again.”

September 28, 2021. Tags: , , , . COVID-19, Equity, Racism, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids play a Rolling Stones Mini-Concert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlAAx3f6WKM

September 27, 2021. Tags: , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids play “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFeWJ-SMWWM

September 27, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Glenn Case covers “Your Imagination” by Daryl Hall and John Oates

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn9RSyDzyHQ

September 27, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Music. Leave a comment.

This is hilarious! Environmentalists are against drilling for the lithium that’s necessary for electric cars.

Lithium is a necessary component of the batteries for electric cars that environmentalists are always claiming to be in favor of.

However, after lithium mining was proposed in California, environmentalists objected to the proposal.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

The drilling request has generated strong opposition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife, who say the drilling project would be an initial step toward the creation of a full-scale lithium mining operation. They say lithium extraction would bring industrial sprawl, large and unsightly drying ponds and threaten a fragile ecosystem that supports Nelson’s bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the Panamint alligator lizard, among other species.

“A lithium mine would destroy these spectacular panoramas,” drilling opponent Tom Budlong said recently as he and fellow activists buzzed over the Panamint Valley in a chartered Ecoflight aircraft.

Absolutely hilarious!

September 27, 2021. Tags: , , . Environmentalism. 2 comments.

In California, some public schools are designating some rooms as prayer rooms for Muslims

https://www.kqed.org/news/11889134/california-schools-prepare-for-thousands-of-afghan-refugee-students

California Schools Prepare for Thousands of Afghan Refugee Students

By Diana Lambert

September 21, 2021

In California, home to the largest number of Afghan refugees in the country, school officials are preparing for an influx of students who fled Afghanistan with their families after the Taliban seized power in the country last month.

Schools are especially busy in Sacramento and Fremont, which have two of the largest Afghan communities in the state. Over 40% of the nation’s Afghan refugees have resettled in the Sacramento region in recent years, according to Jessie Tientcheu, chief executive officer of Opening Doors, a resettlement agency based in Sacramento.

Elk Grove Unified School District began offering culturally appropriate meals and setting aside rooms in many of its middle and high schools for prayer during Muslim holidays in preparation for the additional Afghan students it expects in the next month. San Juan Unified is offering Saturday school for English learners, and Fremont Unified is planning to hire more translators.

September 27, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Immigration, Islamization, Religion, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

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