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‘Most humiliating punishment imaginable’: Black National Guardsman allegedly forced to wear heavy chain

As the military reckons with racism and extremism in its ranks, one story of the Maryland National Guard highlights the toll of discrimination.

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Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY – Published Apr. 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – Sgt. Bruce Weaver recalls in an instant the heft of the chain that the all-white trainers at the Maryland National Guard forced him to wear during training at officer candidate school. 

For three days, Weaver, a Black soldier in the Maryland National Guard, hauled the chain – running, falling behind under the burden, being hectored by instructors. They claimed it would remind him to follow the chain of command.

He was stunned. It felt as if he’d been subjected to the kind of punishment used by enslavers, Weaver told USA TODAY.

“At first, my inclination was to drag it,” Weaver recalled of the events five years ago. “They said, ‘No, no. You wear it. That will keep you down.’ That hit me. That hit me. I suppressed it and kept going. The next day, they said, ‘You’re still wearing this chain.’ I told them this is inappropriate punishment. It’s also messing with me psychologically. Chains mean something to Black people.”Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Sgt. Bruce Weaver

They said, ‘No, no. You wear it. That will keep you down.’ That hit me. … Chains mean something to Black people.”

A USA TODAY investigation brings Weaver’s previously unreported case to light as it nears resolution after years of delayed investigations and conflicting findings.

Weaver’s case represents a wider problem for the National Guard whose units in each of the states, territories, and District of Columbia operate with a great deal of autonomy and with little oversight of how various units respond to complaints of inappropriate conduct, such as allegations of, racism, sexual harassment, and assault. The National Guard Bureau in Washington, which referees appeals between state Guard units and troops, serves largely in an advisory role.

Eugene R. Fidell, an expert on military law and professor at New York University Law School, referred to a “perfect storm” of factors contributing to a case like Weaver’s: 

  • Lack of oversight by Congress
  • Little transparency into how the state and territorial Guard units operate
  • Need for a uniform process for handling complaints of discrimination

“This case screams out for some remedy,” Fidell said. 

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In a scathing report obtained by USA TODAY, the National Guard Bureau Office of Equity and Inclusion substantiated 11 complaints of discrimination and one of harassment lodged by Weaver and accused Maryland of violating Weaver’s right to due process. 

The Maryland National Guard has exonerated its personnel after several internal investigations and is appealing the bureau’s decision. In his own harsh letter to the National Guard Bureau on April 8, Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the Maryland National Guard’s adjutant general, accused the bureau’s Office of Equity and Inclusion of attacking the state with “erroneous and unsupported allegations.” Gowen also said the office was acting as an advocate for Weaver and another Black Guardsman who filed a complaint, instead of its mandated role as a “neutral third party.”

He called for a review of the office and corrective action.

“Based on my personal observations, I believe that the National Guard Bureau Military Equal Opportunity program and the offices that support it are not serving justice,” Gowen wrote. “The program has fundamental flaws.”

Racism in the US – and its military

Weaver’s case comes as the nation and military reckons with issues of race – and the National Guard, a confederation of state-run militias, continues to be thrust into the debate in highly visible ways.

In June, when racial justice demonstrations spread in the wake of George Floyd’s death, states and the federal government deployed National Guard troops to city streets. In Washington, D.C., the Guard’s response to mostly peaceful protests received flak for heavy-handed tactics such as buzzing crowds with military helicopters.

In January, tens of thousands of Guardsmen from several states flooded the capital after insurrectionists, some carrying the Confederate Battle flag, the symbol of white supremacy, attempted to overturn the election. Several Guardsmen had to return home after authorities found reason to suspect them of sympathizing with white nationalists.

WHITE SUPREMACY: US Navy, Marines offer white supremacists administrative discharges, clean records

Staff photo by Joe Lamberti

By law, custom and oath, Guardsmen are sworn to uphold the Constitution, including the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably. In reality, Guard troops are men and women who reflect a society grappling and at times riven by race. At times those high-minded ideals and ugly divisions conflict as Weaver claimed happened on Nov. 6, 2015, at the Delaware base where Weaver trained.

“This is not the military service that I thought I’d do,” Weaver said. “I don’t view myself as a civil rights activist. What I want is to commission as a data science officer and do something productive for my country.” 

‘Designed to single out and humiliate’

Weaver, 44, lives with his wife and young son outside of Washington, D.C., and has worked for the federal government for 12 years, including 11 at the Food and Drug Administration and one at the IRS. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and also served in the Marine Reserve before joining the Maryland Army National Guard.

Accustomed to achievement, and raised to control his emotions, Weaver persisted through his punishment during the officer training despite simmering anger.

Maryland National Guard Sgt. Bruce Weaver wearing a chain as discipline after a minor infraction.
Sgt. Bruce Weaver with his wife, Kaye Evans-Lutterodt, and 18-month-old son Oliver Weaver in Wheaton, Md., on April 7, 2021.

“It hurt my pride,” he said. “After that, I felt humiliated.”

Weaver had left a training site without prior authorization, a charge that Weaver disputes. For that, he received what a National Guard Bureau investigator called “the most humiliating punishment imaginable to use against an African American cadet.” 

A photo, taken by a classmate and forwarded to Weaver, shows a chain braided over his right shoulder and entwined around his wrist. The classmate was stunned by the scene, documented it, and wanted Weaver to have proof, according to Weaver. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
Maryland National Guard Sgt. Bruce Weaver wearing a chain as discipline after a minor infraction.

The bureau’s investigator scoffed at the claim by the Maryland instructors that the chain represented the importance of the “chain of command,” the military edict to follow orders of superiors.

“To conclude that such punishment, meted out by an all-white chain of command on a subordinate minority cadet to reinforce that the chain of command is in charge, is simply a mischaracterization of what happened,” the report states.

Maryland National Guard officials denied race was a factor in the discipline. One of its investigations determined that the chain belonged to the Delaware National Guard, which had discontinued its use for discipline in about 2015.

Weaver says he was singled out.

“This punishment was designed to be humiliating on a cultural level as it mirrored slavery,” Weaver wrote. “I have not seen this punishment before … nor have I seen it since. It was uniquely designed to single out and humiliate.”

‘The intent was not what you see’ 

The report points to two instructors for their treatment of Weaver, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Carbaugh and Capt. Jacob Day.

“SFC Carbaugh knew precisely what the chain would mean to both Complainant and the other cadets. SFC Carbaugh wanted to teach Complainant a lesson about who was in charge and he used a heavy chain to accomplish this and the rest of the OCS (Officer Candidate School) Cadre let him,” the Bureau report stated. “The allegation of discrete discrimination based on race or color is SUBSTANTIATED.”

Carbaugh now retired, said in an interview that Weaver had not been singled out because of his race. Instructors had required white and Black candidates to carry the chain, an ammunition can, and a rock because Weaver and others had left another training site without proper authorization, Carbaugh said. The idea was to slow them down and drive home the lesson not to leave anybody behind. 

Weaver did not have to wear the chain, Carbaugh said, but he did have to haul it.

“I can understand the optics of the picture look very bad,” Carbaugh said. “However, the intent was not what you see in the picture.”

Day declined to comment on the advice of military lawyers.

The National Guard Bureau found that Day and Carbaugh had singled out Weaver “and concluded he would not succeed based at least in part on his race,” according to its report. The bureau also found that requiring Weaver “to wear a heavy chain was based on Complainant’s race and the desire to humiliate Complainant and let him know the OCS chain of command was in control.” There was also no evidence that the chain had been used by the Maryland National Guard before or since the incident involving Weaver, the National Guard Bureau report said. 

Carbaugh said the characterization of his action in the National Guard Bureau report was inaccurate and that he had not been interviewed by its investigators about the incident.

“It’s a damning picture, but it’s not an accurate depiction of what happened that weekend,” Carbaugh said. Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Sergeant First Class Andrew Carbaugh

It’s a damning picture, but it’s not an accurate depiction of what happened that weekend.”

The Maryland National Guard investigated and in a January 2020 memo stated that none of Weaver’s allegations of discrimination could be substantiated and that he had offered no “concrete proof” of racial bias. The investigating officer, whose name is redacted, cited sworn statements that “suggest” Weaver did not believe the chain was used in a discriminatory way. 

“I do not find there to be any intent for this item or action to be racist or discriminatory in any way,” the officer wrote in the report.

“The Officer Candidate School program cannot replicate the true stress of combat, so both physical exertion and other stressing events are used to develop our future combat leaders,” the memo said. “OCS candidates are required to carry the chain due to their failure to properly execute leadership responsibilities. Our Investigating Officer interviewed all Officer Candidates and there wasn’t one that felt the practice was racially motivated.”

Weaver disputed the characterization by the Maryland National Guard that he had merely had to carry the chain.

“No other candidates had to wear the chain,” he said.

The Maryland National Guard defended its investigation and is appealing parts of the decision made by the National Guard Bureau, said Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard.

“We are aware of the allegations made in this case, and we conducted a thorough investigation, which failed to substantiate these claims,” Rauschenberg said in a statement. “We believe the investigation was properly conducted and are aware of the concerns raised by NGB. This case is currently before an NGB Hearing Examiner and will remain open until the examiner has made his final ruling. Until the process is complete, it would be improper to discuss any potential findings.”

A chain’s heavy symbolism

Characterizations of what happened in 2015 are still disputed by the Maryland National Guard and the National Guard Bureau and Weaver.

Weaver filed a formal complaint in 2017, during his second attempt to complete the second of three phases of officer candidate school, he said. Maryland National Guard officials dropped him from the program for failing twice to pass the second phase of the school.

Nobody, however, denies that the heavy chain was used as punishment by an all-white group of instructors on a Black cadet.

A 2017 memo from the Maryland National Guard concedes that the chain had racist overtones and would no longer be used.

“The issues of racial inequities continue to be something that we as an Army must address,” the memo stated. “To that end, the use of carrying a chain to reinforce the importance of the ‘chain of command’ is discontinued. While the investigating officer found no intent to mistreat or create a racially charged situation, this approach is something that all leaders agree leaves too much to personal interpretation.”

Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, said discrimination in the Guard and elsewhere is intolerable.

“With regards to the chain: In 2017, the governor’s office was advised by the Guard that the matter was fully investigated and that the practice was discontinued,” Ricci said. “No one, soldier or otherwise, should feel harassed or discriminated against.”

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Who decides who has the ‘ability to lead’?

To Weaver and the National Guard Bureau, racism is at the heart of the chain’s use as a discipline. The bureau’s report noted that the instructors did not want Weaver to become an officer.

Weaver had completed the first phase of three in officer training, and his instructors were determined to force him out during the second phase, he said.

“The intent was to degrade,” Weaver said. “To degrade and challenge my ability to lead. And that was successful.”

Weaver’s case has the attention of Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who chairs the Armed Services Committee panel that oversees the National Guard. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.

“Stories like these are painful reminders of how much work remains to make our military a safe and welcoming place for all service members,” Duckworth said. “As the Chair of the Airland Subcommittee, I am focused on rooting out these kinds of degrading and discriminatory incidents that harm our troop readiness and national security. We need greater diversity in the upper ranks of our military leaders, and we need leaders of all backgrounds, genders, and races to send a clear message that they won’t tolerate discrimination of any kind.” 

The Army continues to struggle to attract and promote Black officers to career fields deemed a prerequisite for future senior positions, USA TODAY reported last fall. While white service members make up 69% of active duty overall, they represent more than 87% of the highest-ranked officers.

Those who have achieved leadership positions acknowledge their own struggles for equal treatment as Black officers.

Air Force Chief on his struggles as he takes a job the Air Force’s new chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., is reflecting on current protests, racial injustice, and disparity as he takes on the historic appointment. (June 10)AP

Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, shared publicly his reaction to Floyd’s death last year.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but the many African Americans who have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden. I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force.”

Brown acknowledged that he was often the only African American in his squadron or the room. 

While 15% of those serving the Army National Guard nationwide are Black, in Maryland that number is 34%. About 25% of its officer corps are people of color, including Black, Asian American, and American Indian troops.

Yet at the time of Weaver’s incident, the OCS instructors were all white. 

One of the bureau’s proposed remedies for Weaver is to allow him to rejoin officer candidate school. Weaver instead wants a direct commission as an officer, an action that would bypass officer candidate school. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2019 allows the military to appoint officers up to the rank of colonel if they have special skills. Weaver wants to serve as a data science officer.

“I don’t think realistically I could go back to OCS in Maryland and get a fair shake,” he said. 

He’s not alone.

‘Hostile work environment’

The National Guard Bureau’s report on Weaver was followed closely by another blasting the Maryland National Guard for treatment of a Black soldier and the investigation of his case.

In that case, the Bureau harshly criticized Maryland’s treatment of Chief Warrant Officer 3 George Ross, according to the document obtained by USA TODAY. The bureau’s report concluded that “race was a factor” in a different white officer’s decision to deny Ross’ bid to join a cyber protection team. The bureau’s finding was “based on the hostile work environment (the officer) created for minorities generally and Complainant in particular.”

As in Weaver’s case, the bureau pointed to a flawed mechanism to report discrimination and harassment, the military equal opportunity complaint process.

Ross filed his complaint in Nov. 2017, and it should have been processed in six months. 

“Like the previous case, this matter is only now through the formal stage,” the report states. “This type of delay is inexcusable.”

Maryland officials’ delay in investigating Ross’ harassment complaint and the “cumulative efforts by the State to hamper or influence the MEO (military equal opportunity) process in this matter are significant and suggest the State is trying to stack the deck against the complainant.”

Among the bureau’s proposed recommendations: Ross be awarded more than two years of back pay and have his attorney’s fees paid and a reprimand issued to the officer it found at fault in his case. 

Ross, through his attorney, declined to comment. Maryland is appealing the decision. In Gowen’s letter, he accused the Bureau of bias in reviewing the case and findings not supported by facts.

Equal opportunity issues aren’t restricted to the Maryland National Guard.

In a survey of other states, USA TODAY found that attendance in required equal opportunity training within the Ohio National Guard was attended by fewer than half its troops. In one document signed and dated December 2018, 41% of listed Ohio National Guard members attended the training. Attendance among senior leaders was not much different: 44%.

Ohio National Guard requires all units to conduct equal opportunity training every six months, but there is no mandatory participation requirement, said spokeswoman Stephanie Beougher. That training is “just one component to the Ohio National Guard (equal opportunity) program to provide a comprehensive effort that ensures fair treatment of all members and develops cohesion and readiness by eliminating discriminatory behaviors or practices,” Beougher said. Other measures include new employee training and additional training available at a commander’s request.Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Author of the National Guard Bureau report

From the looks of the (investigative report) assembled by the State, Complainant is the most unlucky person in the Maryland National Guard.”

Officials at the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Equity and Inclusion determined that Maryland officials “violated the due process rights” of Weaver and Ross in the way they processed their complaints, said Nahaku McFadden, a bureau spokesman, in a statement.

“The National Guard Bureau Equity and Inclusion office takes its role in the Military Equal Opportunity Program seriously,” McFadden said. While their cases are being appealed, the bureau cannot comment further, she said.

The bureau proposed several remedial actions in Weaver’s case and blasted Maryland officials for a shoddy investigation of Weaver’s complaints that took years instead of months to complete. 

“How the State processed this complaint is deeply troubling,” the report states. 

It noted that “every unusual instance just happened to occur in this matter,” including the use of the chain, a poor evaluation of Weaver despite no negative reports on file, and the processing of his complaint, which was mandated to take no more than six months but stretched out over more than three years.

“From the looks of the (investigative report) assembled by the State, Complainant is the most unlucky person in the Maryland National Guard,” the report’s author concludes.

Nearing resolution – in one case

The bureau report criticized the Maryland National Guard for failing to track complaints from officer candidates about racial discrimination. It noted that previous classes of officer candidates had lodged military equal opportunity complaints “regarding how minority candidates were treated, yet the Maryland OCS Cadre remained all white with no minority representation.”

Further, the report noted that personnel in neighboring states had made comments about how Maryland’s all-white training cadre had treated minority personnel, “yet the State did not take such allegations seriously.”

In 2021, its 17-member instructor cadre includes 10 white troops, six Black and one Hispanic member, according to the Maryland National Guard.

The report called on Maryland to review all military equal opportunity complaints since 2016 “to determine if there is a systemic problem with how instructors are treating minority candidates.”

The senior official at the bureau charged with investigating Weaver’s complaint substantiated several claims of discrimination and proposed remedies, said McFadden. The bureau plans to review responses from Weaver and Maryland and make a ruling within weeks. Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Michelle Bercovici, a partner at Alden Law Group in Washington, D.C.

If this cannot happen for Bruce, then the whole system is entirely toothless and unjust … Maryland National Guard needs to be … holding the responsible officers accountable and taking action to investigate and address what may be systemic issues of racism in the (officer candidate school) program.”

Maryland could then request a review of the decision by a general officer assigned to the bureau, said Air Force Maj. Matt Murphy, a spokesman for the bureau. The official deciding on that request could recommend suspension or termination of federal funds for Maryland’s National Guard. The bureau, however, does not have command authority over state National Guard units, which is reserved for state officials.

Rauchenberg, the Maryland National Guard spokesman, acknowledged problems with the military equal opportunity process but, said Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general for Maryland at the time, had reviewed the claims and concluded they were unsubstantiated.

“Fundamental flaws exist in the process of National Guard Bureau’s Military Equal Opportunity program, causing confusion and delays between both the state and NGB levels,” Rauschenberg said. “Although not perfect, the (Maryland National Guard) conducts investigations thoroughly while taking appropriate measures where positive change can be made within our force.”

Michelle Bercovici, a partner at Alden Law Group in Washington, D.C., has advised Weaver as he represents himself in the appeal and called the treatment of his case by the Maryland National Guard to be abhorrent. The National Guard Bureau has substantiated most of Weaver’s claims, and he deserves to be an officer and have a chance to succeed without discrimination, she said.

“If this cannot happen for Bruce, then the whole system is entirely toothless and unjust,” she said. “Next, I think that the Maryland National Guard needs to be held accountable for its failure to uphold anti-discrimination principles, which includes, but is in no way limited to, holding the responsible officers accountable and taking action to investigate and address what may be systemic issues of racism in the (officer candidate school) program.” 

Contributing: Ryan Miller

E-mail USA TODAY Pentagon correspondent Tom Vanden Brook at tvbrook@usatoday.com or follow him on Twitter @tvandenbrookPublished 5:02 AM GMT-4 Apr. 14, 2021 Updated 8:07 AM GMT-4 Apr. 14, 2021

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New Side Effects With AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 Vaccines?

New Side Effects With AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 Vaccines?

New Side Effects With AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 Vaccines?

TMR is not suggesting to anyone not to access COVID-19 ‘vaccines’. Merely providing information to those who may be at risk, knowingly or otherwise, to be aware that there ARE varying life-threatening risks and to consider and consult, before becoming a ‘negative/positive statistic, all the theories, conspiratorial, truths taken on board. We encourage there is not an earlier time available for everyone to take stock of their health and immunise themselves against all poor health lifestyles.

Medscape Logo
Medical Newsreprint

by Sue Hughes

April 09, 2021

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

In addition to the unusual blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which have received extensive attention in the past couple of weeks, other safety signals are also being investigated with this vaccine, and now with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine as well, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reports.

Highlights of the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) meeting April 6-9 include that the agency has started a review of a safety signal to assess reports of capillary leak syndrome in people who were vaccinated with Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca).

It also reports that PRAC has started a review of a safety signal to assess reports of thromboembolic events with low platelets in people who received the COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen.

Capillary Leak Syndrome with AZ Vaccine

An EMA press release issued today notes that five cases of capillary leak syndrome, characterized by leakage of fluid from blood vessels causing tissue swelling and a drop in blood pressure in individuals receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, were reported in the EudraVigilance database.

“At this stage, it is not yet clear whether there is a causal association between vaccination and the reports of capillary leak syndrome. These reports point to a ‘safety signal’ — information on new or changed adverse events that may potentially be associated with a medicine and that warrants further investigation,” the EMA states.

PRAC will evaluate all the available data to decide if a causal relationship is confirmed or not, it adds.

Thromboembolic Events with J&J/Janssen Vaccine

Four serious cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets have been reported postvaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen, EMA reports. One case occurred in a clinical trial and three cases occurred during the vaccine rollout in the US. One of them was fatal.

COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen is currently only used in the US, under an emergency use authorization. COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen was authorized in the EU on March 11. The vaccine rollout has not started yet in any EU member state but is expected in the next few weeks.

The Janssen vaccine uses an adenovirus vector, as does the AstraZeneca vaccine.

PRAC is investigating these cases and will decide whether regulatory action may be necessary, which usually consists of an update to the product information, it adds.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

Additional ‘educational’ reading: https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/948301

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Spring breakers flock to Florida beaches

‘Impending doom’: Why the US is facing a new coronavirus wave despite one of the world’s best vaccine programmes

Reprint

By Jamie Johnson, US correspondent, Washington 30 March 2021

Hospitalisations are increasing and deaths are multiplying from the disease that has already killed 550,000 people in the US By Jamie Johnson, US correspondent, Washington 30 March 2021

Joe Biden, the US President, has urged states to pause their reopening efforts after a senior health official warned of the “impending doom” of a deadly third wave of coronavirus cases.

Despite a hugely successful vaccine programme – one in six Americans is already fully inoculated – cases are rising, hospitalisations are increasing, and deaths are multiplying from the disease that has already killed 550,000 people in the United States.

“We still are in a war with this deadly virus and we’re bolstering our defences. But this war is far from won,” said Mr Biden.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US public health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), appeared to fight back tears on Thursday as she said: “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.

“We have so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared”.

As Boris Johnson warns that a third wave in the UK is still a risk, despite a successful vaccine programme, the US may be used as a barometer for how the situation in Britain could evolve.

How is the US vaccine rollout programme progressing?

While his administration ramps up its drive to administer jabs as quickly as possible, Mr Biden has said that 90 per cent of US adults would be eligible for vaccination by April 19, and 90 per cent of Americans would have a vaccination centre within five miles of their homes by then.

So far, 145,812,835 vaccine doses have been administered and 15.8 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated.

On Monday, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma made all adults eligible for vaccination. New York said that all adults would be eligible starting April 6.

Mr Biden had pledged to administer 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office. That goal has since been revised to 200 million after the first was met within 60 days.

With more than 2.5 million jabs a day, it is widely accepted that the rollout is going well.

What is going wrong?

The number of new coronavirus cases jumped by seven per cent over the past week to a seven-day average of around 60,000 cases, according to the CDC.

Data from the New York Times shows that in nine states over the past two weeks, virus cases have risen more than 40 per cent.

Connecticut reported a 62 per cent jump over the past two weeks, and New York and Pennsylvania both reported increases of more than 40 percent.

Michigan saw a 133 per cent increase – and epidemiologists have pointed to indoor dining restarting on February 1 as being a possible root cause.

In Florida, which has started welcoming tourists, the situation is worsening.

Spring Breakers were forced to be inside by 8pm as the young partygoers appeared to give up on social distancing and mask-wearing in Miami during the holidays.

In Orange County, Orlando, the average age for new infections has dropped to 30 and one in three people hospitalised is under 45.

Spring breakers flock to Florida beaches
Spring Breakers were forced to be inside by 8 pm Credit: REUTERS

But there is a wider problem at play.

Over the past week, the state has averaged nearly 5,000 cases per day, an increase of 8 per cent from its average two weeks earlier.

Worryingly for the UK, the Kent strain is also rising exponentially in Florida, where it accounts for a greater proportion of total cases than in any other state, according to the CDC.

Case Study: Texas

Fewer restrictions do not automatically mean more cases, data from Texas appears to show.

In a controversial move on March 2, Governor Greg Abbott ended the state’s restrictions despite Texas recording about as many cases per day as the UK on average and having a population less than half the size.

“I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.”

Mr Biden called it “irresponsible”

But the latest figures show that they may have got it right. According to New York Times data, over the past two weeks coronavirus infections in Texas have declined 17 per cent, deaths have declined 34 per cent and hospitalisations have declined 25 per cent.

One note of caution, however, is that the seven-day average of newly reported coronavirus infections was up on Sunday to 3,774. Last Wednesday, the average case count was at a low of 3,401.

What is being done to stop the spread?

The speedy vaccine operation is not moving fast enough to stop the spread of the virus and the President has criticised the “neanderthal thinking” of some state governors who have dropped the requirements for people to wear masks.

“The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place,” said Mr Biden.

“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate.

Asked if states should pause re-opening efforts, Mr Biden said “yes.”

It is yet to be seen if the states will listen.

Mr. Biden has got off to a strong start and is polling well because he has tackled the two most pressing issues for Americans head-on – the economy and the pandemic.

A $1.9 trillion (with a T) relief package has seen cheques for $1,400 sent to the vast majority of households to help cover lost income and pay the bills, while the vaccine programme is moving at a pace.

Much as in the UK, American health officials have told the public to “stick with it.”

“I know you all so badly want to be done,” said Dr Walensky. “We are just almost there, but not quite yet.”

What could the UK learn?

The US has not had a slow-release – each state taking forging its own path out of lockdown. That is why the data looks different in some areas. But of those where public spaces are opened, the general correlation is that cases have again risen.

“Because the government has allowed some things to open up, people have viewed that as a good thing to do,” Dawn Misra, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University told the New York Times.

“This is a really tricky part of public health messaging. Just because you’re allowed to be in restaurants and other places do not mean they are safe.”

This should give the UK pause for thought.

In the UK, things are moving in the right direction. Sunday had the lowest number of newly recorded cases in six months, while there were no Covid-related deaths in the capital.

But the prospect of continued success may not remain in the Prime Minister’s hands.

A third wave

Boris Johnson said that Britain needs to “build our defences” against a third wave brewing in Europe for “when it comes” to the UK.

“What we don’t know is exactly how strong our fortifications now are, how robust our defences are against another wave,” he said, ominously.

Europe is struggling with the vaccine rollout, and cases are rising again.

Paris and parts of northern and southern France are one week into a lockdown which will last at least four weeks, in an attempt to stem a third Covid wave fuelled by contagious variants.

Italy and Germany have tightened their borders.

In the US, a third wave is also bubbling under the surface, as explained by the number of rising cases, even in states where masks and social restrictions are still stringent.

As restrictions lift the UK and the US will be relying on their vaccine programmes outrunning the new variants. Whether they can remains to be seen.

Joe Biden finished his press conference on Monday by saying: “Fight to the finish. Don’t let up now.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said: “The vaccine is our best route out of this pandemic and we must all do our part by taking the vaccine when it is offered to us.”

Major Israeli study finds Pfizer jab 94 percent effective in ‘real world’ use
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/major-israeli-study-finds-pfizer-jab-94-per-cent-effective-real/

Posted in COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

02dod-Picture2

Premier Taylor-Farrell’s 15-year time-frame for economic independence

Part 01/2020 (Contribution)
January 24, 2020

What can we do to move beyond 60% dependency on the UK for our recurrent budget?

BRADES, Montserrat, January 17, 2020 – In his Monday, January 13th opening remarks for the annual DfID Financial Aid Mission (FAM), Montserrat’s new premier, Hon Mr Easton Taylor-Farrell, announced a policy goal that by 2035 (i.e. in fifteen years), Montserrat should be able to pay its own way. That is, he hopes that by that time our economy will have grown sufficiently strong through tourism, trade and investment that we will no longer need the current 60% UK subsidy to carry our recurrent budget; without, over-burdening our economy through over-taxation.
What would that take?

For one, Government and our economy are largely continuous (never mind what politicians tend to say around election time). So, let’s look at a January 2017 article in this series:
“[I]f we are to soundly rebuild Montserrat’s economy we need to soundly understand what happened to us. This makes the December 15, 2017, Mott-MacDonald Draft Economic Growth Strategy document[1] doubly important. Here, let us look at an adjusted version of one of their tables, with some additional calculations:

[ . . . ]

[Due to the volcano crisis and UK aid under the UN Charter, Article 73, the public sector has more than doubled as a percent of our economy, moving from 19.3% in 1994 to 45.8% in 2016 . . .

As a result, our GDP is not a “natural” one driven by a buoyant private sector, it reflects this annual support to our economy. Such is not sustainable

In simple terms, if we are to return the . . . public sector to being 20% of our economy in 20 years, our economy would have to more than double, from EC$153 million to EC$ 350 million . . . this requires an average growth rate of 4.2%.

So, it is reasonable for Mott-MacDonald to target a 3 – 5% annual GDP growth rate. ECCB would prefer to see 5 – 7%.

However, if Montserrat is to move ahead, we must put in place key infrastructure, build our productive capacity,[4] provide incentives and reassurance that will rebuild investor confidence, and support a wave of enterprises that take advantage of our major opportunities: tourism, geothermal energy, the rising global digital services economy, and the like.[5]”

Of course, to do that in fifteen years instead, we would have to grow even faster, 5.7% on average.

What about tourism (and the digital sector)?

That is a bit complicated. As, while we can see that we are surrounded by several islands with 600,000 and more tourists per year, so there is obvious room for growth, in the longer term, the main-spring of global economic growth is shifting to Asia.

As this series noted on July 5th 2018, “China and India . . . combined will contribute over forty percent of global economic growth this year, 3.3%.  By contrast, the UK contributes only 1.4% and the US only 12.3% to current global growth.  By 2023, the UK may contribute 1.3% and the US, 8.5%.”

Where, “Chinese and Indian tourists will find it far more convenient to go to neighbouring destinations, instead of regularly flying to the Caribbean. So while slow-growth Europe and North America will still be prosperous and will be sources for tourism, the North Atlantic Basin is gradually turning into a low-growth, already-been-there, saw-that, got-the-tee-shirt, mostly cruise-ship visitor driven tourism market. So, it would be a mistake to put all of our economic eggs in the tourism basket. Yes, tourism is indeed Montserrat’s fastest “quick win” driver for growth, but we have to be realistic about setting up our strategic moves beyond tourism.”

That points to the digital sector, and to the significance of the sub-sea, terabit per second class fibre optic cable project, for which the contract was signed by former premier Romeo on October 24th – which is why we just saw a visit by RV Ridley Thomas, which surveyed the proposed route for the cable. We can catch a glimpse into the significance of this by eavesdropping on what St Helena is saying about their own fibre optic cable. As TMR recently reported:
“According to the Government of St Helena, ‘[c]onnecting to Equiano meets SHG’s timing and budgetary requirements for the European Development Fund and supports the Digital ICT Strategy for St Helena.’

According to their Financial Secretary, Mr Dax Richards: ‘[s]ignificant additional economic development on St Helena is conditional on improved connectivity and accessibility, and therefore the delivery of the Fibre Project is crucial to economic growth . . . The delivery of the Fibre Project is a key action in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan – in order to develop the satellite ground stations, financial services, work from home, academia research and conferences, film location and tourism sectors.’”
All of this calls for long-term, consensus based national strategic planning. Such should build on the Mott-McDonald Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) that was recently shepherded through by consultant economist Mr Raja Kadri, on the 2008 – 2020 Sustainable Development Plan, the current 10-year Physical Development Plan, the past two energy policies and other similar initiatives.

Perhaps, it would also be helpful to again look at the SWOT chart for the EGS, as a reminder that a balanced growth framework has been put on the table for over a year now, through a process of national consultation:

Perhaps, then, a very good place to begin building on the foundation that is already in place would be with the successor Sustainable Development Plan, which is technically due this year. (It may be wise to extend the current SDP for a year or so, to give us time to build its successor.)

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, Elections, International, Local, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Election Reflection

By Claude Gerald

Voters love to hear about Christianity
Thinking that is the end of the story.
And when dem camouflage behind the pulpit
Voters tun choopit,
And shout out this is it
And forget it;
Then joyfully relax and quit.
Only to get a big pool of… got-yah – it is vomit.

If ayuh me a tek de warning
There would be now no bawling
Butt e no too late fuh get d history
So, ask Breedy, ‘Mess Mess’, and Murphy.
And please no forget de Hero.
He could tell you all you want to know
From d start of the show.
And the ladies of the Nursery
Dead or alive they too have a story.
And Sharlotte, Mamzel, Katy, Lucy and Mr. Daley
God bless dem soul whey ever dem be
Dey could complete the heartless history.
And no fuget d deceased Sherolyn Daley!
Her Harris’s soul is pained in childbirth misery.
If you want to know bout Mr. Harry Paddy
Ask the Groves family
Scattered in every nook and cranny.
Dem go tell you who dem be
Not much of a somebady….
So, forget Iceman’s generosity
He must say sorry as he now begin to see…

Dem tink dem smart and got d art
No know that God a go tek awe part.

Living at we expense a dish out nonsense

But still want to pocket every penny
With no empathy or sympathy to neither Tom, Dick or Harry.

But sickness and death a arll awe cooler
As we must confess to we Maker.

Just before the divine BULL BUD start to swing
In a Harry Paddy-Harry Paddy thin pretensive skin.

And blows haffoo roll without cloths
To be finally and comprehensively exposed..

Posted in COVID-19, Elections, Local, Opinions, Poems, Politics, Regional0 Comments

doctors-look-at-CT-scan

Recall to find purpose, meaning and understanding

Today we continue with a few leads on items that appeared in The Montserrat Reporter publications in print and online to bring us up to date, as we too often forget some of what we have tried to draw readers’ attention.

We might become concerned enough to want to join in the questions that often go unanswered as our leaders and the authorities under (or above) them completely ignore or simply misunderstand their obligations. As said elsewhere it might even meet the approval of some, who may be in the majority given the demography on the ground.

But does that serve any progress or development to bring us to a state where we can demand the respect of those with the higher responsibility, taking it all the way UP?

Here are a few excertps of the lead stories from January/February and note how not surprisingly, disturbingly familiar they are a year

Weather system causes disruption to Ferry Service

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, is informing travelers that a high-pressure system in the region is expected to produce rough sea conditions over the next few days, which is resulting in the cancellation of the ‘Day Tour Service’ and will possibly disrupt other scheduled ferry services from Friday, January 10 to 14.

Jaden Sun would be ‘done with’ without clarity, except oratory it was not economical to keep its service. The story yet to be told

 Bank of Montserrat announces New General Manager.

Former Manager Michael Joseph
New Manager Baldwin Taylor

The Bank of Montserrat is pleased to announce the appointment of its new General Manager, Mr. Baldwin Taylor who took up office on January 2, 2020.

He succeeds Mr. Michael Joseph who retires as General Manager after serving for ten (10) years in the position. During his tenure, the Bank grew exponentially recording growth in assets of 47% moving from $171M in 2009 to $252M in 2018, and Loans growth of over 100% increasing from $46M in 2009 to $94M in 2018. The Bank also reported its best profit in the last five years of $4.3M in 2018.

OPENING CEREMONY FOR FINANCIAL AID MISSION (FAM)

FS Colin Owen, partially hidden, Adam Pile FCO Director, Premier Farrell, and Governor Pearce

EVENT:    Opening Ceremony for the Financial Aid Mission (FAM)

BACKGROUND:   The FAM is held annually to allow for discussions between the Government of Montserrat and the Department for International Development (DFID) on the budget allocation for Montserrat.   This year’s FAM will be held from Monday, January 13 to 17,  at the   Montserrat Cultural Centre.

Read the full story on this which will enlighten the strangeness of this year’s FAM discussions.

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

1 of 15

A doctor attends to a patient in an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency Thursday after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Paris hospital. Outbreak specialists worry that the spread of new viruses from patients to health workers can signal the virus is becoming adapted to human transmission.

In Japan, a man in his 60s caught the virus after working as a bus driver for two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, a man in his 30s was sickened after a Chinese colleague from Shanghai, whose parents had recently visited from Wuhan, came to his office for a business meeting. Four other workers later became infected. The woman had shown no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Welcome Trust, welcomed WHO’s emergency declaration.

“This virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world,” he said in a statement. “It is also a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.”

virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China

virus which originated from China a “global health emergency.” China, where the coronavirus emerged

Construction workers labor at the site of the Huoshenshan temporary field hospital being built in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj)

coronavirus defense

Zhong Nanshan (a Chinese pulmonologist who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003) suggested simple ways to prevent Wuhan pneumonia:

It is recommended that you rinse your throat with light salt water before going to the hospital or other public places (and do the same after you return home). The method is as follows:

a) hold a mouthful of dilute salt water;

b) raise your head; let the salt water stay around your throat area

c) open your mouth slightly and exhale slowly, let air bubbling through the water in your throat and make a “ha” sound

d) spit out the salt water after a few seconds

e) repeat 3-5 times

Because viruses or bacteria lurk in the pharynx through the nasal passage, diluted salt water can kill them on the spot, thereby achieving the purpose of preventing infection. During SARS, I promoted and supervised this method among my students. As a result, none of our students in our class got cold, cough and fever.

This method is simple, effective, easy to do. But requires persevere.

Zhong Nanshan

January 21, 2020

Montserrat Port Development Project enters procurement phase – prequalification of contractors to design and construct the new port

February 7, 2020 GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat– The Montserrat Port Development Project has advanced to the procurement process phase, as contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design-build contract for the Phase 1 Development.

Project Manager of the Montserrat Port Development Project, Dion Weekes said the Project has satisfied the conditions set by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to advance to a procurement phase and as a result contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design and construction of the port facilities.

Contractors interested in pre-qualifying should visit the Government of Montserrat tenders website at https://tenders.gov.ms/?page_id=9&id=209 and the Caribbean Development Bank website https://www.caribank.org/work-with-us/procurement/procurement-notices/montserrat-port-development-project-1. The invitation to prequalify is also published on the United Nations Business Development website.

The deadline date for pre-qualification submissions to be received is March 3, 2020, following which the bidding documents for the design and construction of the port facilities are expected to be issued by the end of March.

The Island’s Long-Awaited Hospital Project Moves to Design Phase

The Government of Montserrat has signed a contract with Article 25 for the preliminary design of the island’s new national hospital. This follows a previous announcement that the Government had successfully concluded a globally competitive procurement process.

Article 25 is an international architectural organisation based in the United Kingdom (UK), with impressive experience in health facility design, amongst a portfolio including more than 90 architectural projects across 34 countries.

The designers, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), will be responsible for reviewing previous design work, and generating new and costed architectural options for a facility with a minimum of 24 beds, with the capacity for expansion to meet peak demands. The consultants will also provide logistical plans for decanting from the current facilities and ensuring continuity of service, whilst demonstrating conformance to the highest clinical design standards for patients and medical staff.

The Head of Programme Management Office, Mr. Martin Parlett, said, “We are delighted to now be in formal contract with Article 25, and to fire the starting pistol on the overall project. Article 25 will begin by mobilizing a multi-disciplinary team, and conducting a review of relevant healthcare data and previous design work. We then expect Article 25 to be ‘on the ground’ in Montserrat in March, to conduct site visits and the first stage of consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. Input from our healthcare professionals, technicians and patient community is critical to ensure that the design responds to Montserrat’s unique contact, whilst enabling improvements to service and experience.”

STATEMENT ON JOHN A OSBORNE AIRPORT CLOSURES WHEN THE RUNWAY IS WET

The Governor and his Office sincerely sympathise with individuals who have been inconvenienced by the adjustments made to the airport operating regime, specifically the “wet runway” closure, since the runway overshoot incident in September last year. 

There has been some good recent discussion on the closure in the media, but also some misunderstandings on some aspects. People may welcome clarifications and information on the way forward. 

Air safety regulation in Montserrat has been wholly designated to the UK organisation, Air Safety and Support International (ASSI). These are experts in what is a critical but highly technical professional field and will be determining the way forward. The Governor does not have a personal responsibility for deciding such matters. It would clearly be wrong and inappropriate for him, or anyone else without the relevant professional experience and qualifications, to do so.

ASSI required that use of our runway in Montserrat in wet conditions be restricted temporarily after the accident last September. That was because they had grounds to believe that the very wet conditions at the time of the incident may have contributed to it.

FAM budget discussions friendly (Jan 2020)

With the concurrence of the other lead players in the recently concluded Financial Aid Mission talks here in Montserrat, (2020) His Excellency Governor Andy Pearce expressed at the joint press conference between the UK Department for International Development/Foreign Commonwealth Office (DFID/FCO) and Government of Montserrat (GoM), that his thoughts as to what would be key to a successful FAM were spot on, to be professional, in a spirit of cooperation an friendship.

He said in his opening remarks, “I just gave a couple of thoughts that the key to a successful FAM in my relatively brief experience here, was firstly professional d0iligence and thoroughness, attention to detail and secondly conducting things in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

“I must say from my own experience in this week, I think both have been absolutely hit on the nail,” adding that he would echo the Financial Secretary’s (FS) observation.

The FS had said as he introduced the press conference, “…it’s been an extraordinary week…very busy – it’s been very well attended,” and he said, “thanks to the Premier and the ministers for attending most of the sessions…”

The Governor ended his brief remarks addressing the “public service team in all its parts…really excellent preparation, coming straight after Christmas and with busy day jobs…thank you very much indeed for doing it also carefully; and such a happy spirit indeed. It’s built a really solid understanding between us all and an excellent spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

The Hon Premier Joseph Farrell speaking next, said he wished to join with the others who have extended words of thanks to the many persons who are involved (they said they had one more meeting after the press conference, having just concluded one before) in this week of activities.”

In particular,” he said, “I want to thank the core teams of both DFID and the government and once that Ministry of finance and all others who took part in the discussions.”

“Surely it was a very full experience for us as a new government. My ministers and I certainly enjoyed the exposure that we have had,” repeating the newness, “but we have learnt a lot.”

He confirmed that they had attended “most of the sessions and the only reason why we did that is because we want to be familiar with how it works

New Port stalled

February 2020

Montserrat may not receive the port break water and breathing facility that was advertised by the government of Montserrat. In the first in a series of Facebook live videos, minister of communication and works the honorable doctor Samuel Joseph says upon taking office he has discovered that the cost of constructing the port exceeds the budget that has been allocated.

After we submitted this designs this how we would like our ports, how we would like our break water just try to get an understanding of what it cost. What happen is that the cost of the project came way over the amount of money that’s available. So that created an immediate issue so what has happen is that we had to go back when I say we the technicians etc had to now go back and try to scale down the design of the port, scale down to a smaller version so basically cost less money they are currently in the process of doing that and the question we are going to face as a government and as a people of Montserrat is how small can you go before that project is acceptable.

Now that the real cost of the port has been introduced minister Joseph says the government will now have to scale back its expectations to the public.

Posted in COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Trump-survives-as-expected-the-SYSTEM-their-style-of-democracy-1

Trump Acquitted – ‘Make America Great Again has only just begun’: Trump defiant after acquittal

https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB1dELAT?m=en-gb&referrerID=InAppShare

Sky News – 13 February 2021

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his 2nd impeachment trial.

Although the final vote came in as 57 “guilty” and 43 “not guilty”, the Democrats did not reach the two-thirds majority they needed to secure a conviction.

Seven members of Mr. Trump’s own party (Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey, and Cassidy) joined Democrats on the charge of incitement.

In a statement after the trial, Mr. Trump said it was “a sad commentary on our times” that the Democrats had been given a “free pass to transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.

He added: “I always have, and always will be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Mr. Trump had been charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, just as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

Just before the 6 January riots, thousands of his supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, minutes away from the Capitol.
It had been organised to challenge the election result and Joe Biden’s win.

Mr. Trump’s supporters listened to him speak for 70 minutes, during which at one point the former reality star exhorted them to “fight like hell – or you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

https://news.sky.com/story/trump-impeachment-trial-three-things-that-make-the-verdict-crucial-to-all-of-us-12216607

The attack began moments after he took the applause.

At the impeachment hearing, Mr. Trump’s defence team had launched a blistering attack on the Democrats, describing proceedings as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

Michael van der Veen, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said: “This whole spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party.”

He told the hearing Mr. Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

It was argued that his speech at the rally was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

t is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.
The first attempt to convict Mr. Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53 to 47 for the second.

Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.
In his defiant statement after the conclusion of Saturday’s vote, Mr. Trump hinted he may return to the political spotlight.

He said: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.

“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.

“There has never been anything like it!”

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The New Yorker

How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial

The New Yorker
Reprint

By Amy Davidson Sorkin – February 13, 2021

Former President Donald Trump standing on stage in front of a line of American flags waving in the wind.
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / Getty

On Friday afternoon, when senators got their chance to ask questions in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one of the first came from Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Like all of the senators’ questions, this one had been written on a yellow notecard, passed from the gallery to Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who was presiding and then read aloud by a clerk. “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them?” Murkowski and Collins wanted to know. “Please be as detailed as possible.” The two senators are among the handful of Republicans who are seen as possible votes to convict the former President for inciting an insurrection, and, for that reason alone, their question, which was directed at Trump’s lawyers, was worth taking seriously. But it also got at a central inquiry in the trial: How many people were Trump willing to see get hurt in his effort to hold on to the Presidency?

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t really answer. “The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other on to that question,” van der Veen, whose professional specialty is personal injury cases, said. This was an odd complaint, given that the question concerned his client’s knowledge and actions. Flipping through some papers, van der Veen offered that there had been “a tweet at 2:38 P.M.” on January 6th—which would have been almost half an hour after a mob seeking to disrupt the Electoral College vote tally had breached the Capitol—and so “it was certainly some time before then” that Trump had learned of the riot. (In the tweet, Trump advised the mob to be peaceful, but failed to tell them to leave the Capitol—perhaps because that was where he wanted them to be.) Van der Veen added, “That’s the problem with this entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation! The American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence. Hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.” Van der Veen muttered something about due process and then, without any further attempt to answer the question, he sat down.

In one respect, his reply is an example of the dismissive, blame-shifting, reality-defying manner in which Trump’s defense has been conducted. Trump’s lawyers may have also recognized that the question of his response on January 6th has become a particularly hazardous area for him—and, indeed, for a few hours on Saturday morning, it seemed to have changed the timeline for the trial, opening the door for witnesses. The question is powerful for more than one reason. First, his reaction spoke of his intent: if he had truly been misunderstood by his supporters, who certainly seemed to believe that they were fulfilling his wishes, he might have quickly expressed shock and condemnation, told them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol, and rushed to send reinforcements. He, of course, did none of these things. Despite van der Veen’s claims, and even though much about how, exactly, Trump spent his time is not known, the House managers did document the former President’s inaction. It wasn’t until after 4 P.M. that he told the rioters to go home, but, in the same message, he said, “We love you,” and took the time to complain, again, about the election. As Stacey Plaskett, a House manager and a delegate representing the Virgin Islands, noted, when she got a chance to respond to the Murkowski-Collins query, the reason that the question of what Trump did to help “keeps coming up is because the answer is ‘nothing.’ ”

As Plaskett took her seat, Collins and Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, sent a question to the chair about the second aspect of Trump’s response: his attitude regarding the danger to Vice-President Mike Pence. In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 P.M., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 P.M. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 P.M., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution . . . the USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

Video From The New Yorker

A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege
In a Taped Call, Trump Pressures a Georgia Official to Overturn the State’s Election Results

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 P.M., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

Van der Veen, however, argued that the Pence question wasn’t even “really relevant to the charges for the impeachment in this case.” The House managers had focussed on how Trump’s actions ahead of January 6th had laid the groundwork for the violence; these included his threats to election officials and his summoning of his supporters for a “wild” rally to coincide with the vote certification. Trump’s lawyers seemed to believe that he had to answer only for his precise words at the rally, for which they offered improbable explanations. (Because Trump, early in his speech, had observed that the crowd planned to “peacefully and patriotically” protest, the lawyers brushed aside his subsequent repeated calls for them to act quite differently.) In their telling, it was as if Trump were just someone who had happened to wander onto the stage, with no context, history, or—perhaps most of all—power. But when the President of the United States tells people that they must go to the building he’s pointing at, the Capitol, and fight, or else “you’re not going to have a country anymore”—and when he says that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules”—he is doing something distinct. Trump’s lawyers, throughout their defense, ignored all the ways that Trump used and abused the office of the Presidency to make January 6th unfold as it did. As Raskin had noted, the impeachment process, with its reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” has a political character that makes it distinct from the ordinary criminal justice process.

In the course of the defense presentation—which lasted a little more than three hours, less than a quarter of the time that Trump’s lawyers were allotted—they played so many clips of Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, delivering fiery speeches, that one might have thought that she was on trial. There were also videos of other Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Karen Bass, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton—and even ones featuring Madonna, Chris Cuomo, and Johnny Depp. One video, played multiple times, consisted of clips of Democratic senators and House managers using the word “fight” in different contexts. (Judging from the placard set up next to him in one clip, Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was captured saying, during his first term in Congress, that he’d fight for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which, among other things, helps preserve areas for mountain biking and protects the habitat of the greater sage grouse.) Speaking of the people shown in the videos, Plaskett noted, “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color. And women—Black women.” As Trump surely knows, that message won’t be lost on his supporters, either.

The underlying message in Trump’s defense, however, was that it was outrageous that his actions were being questioned at all. Bruce Castor, another of his lawyers, told the senators that, by any measure, Trump was “the most pro-police, anti-mob-rule President this country has ever seen.” The senators had already heard from the managers how, for months before the assault, Trump had reveled in acts of political violence, such as when COVID-lockdown protesters attacked state buildings in Lansing, Michigan, or when vehicles driven by his supporters dangerously surrounded a bus of Biden campaign workers on a Texas highway. The senators had also seen evidence of the injuries that his supporters had inflicted on officers with the Capitol Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police. But Castor showed them one of the videos. There was Trump, standing in front of an American flag, saying, “I am your President of law and order.” The scenes changed—to people holding Black Lives Matter signs, to street violence, to Maxine Waters, again—but always returned to Trump with the words “LAW AND ORDER” superimposed on the screen. “We know that the President would never have wanted such a riot to occur, because his long-standing hatred for violent protesters and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day that he served in the White House,” Castor said. He sounded like he was offering a declaration of faith—against all the evidence of reality—not a legal argument. On Saturday morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, reportedly told colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit. The Trumpist credo, it seems, is one that the Republican Party intends to live by.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/how-the-question-of-trumps-behavior-during-the-capitol-assault-upended-the-impeachment-trial?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_021321&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c4900cb3f92a44c6204e517&cndid=49388965&hasha=335bf5f704bb1992aeb4e5c8934cb9a9&hashb=71c6a87bf07011f21867006e6169ea9865429b1e&hashc=8611d077b9d4bfc03504d249e603f505bfeadca448fe02f135ccf05e677e717e&esrc=bounceX&mbid=CRMNYR012019&utm_term=TNY_Daily

Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Amy Davidson Sorkin

has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2014. She has been at the magazine since 1995, and, as a senior editor for many years, focusing on national security, international reporting, and features.

More: Impeachment Donald Trump Senate Capitol Hill

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Pandemic schooling at home is not homeschooling – this is why lesson failures are OK

Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless

TMR: Right from the beginning, we ask how does this might apply to Montserrat? How is the consultation, or the discussion or the action, not getting it right! How many of our parents and children in little Montserrat are facing this situation. Who thinks about it? What was done when it was discovered that not all had computers at home? What does that say when instead of engaging the media appropriately, with a complete lack of understanding of the important role of proper and beneficial ‘communication’?

by Victoria Bennett – The Independent – 03 February 2021

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

When the schools closed in 2020, friends said to me, “You’re ok, it’s normal for you”. To some extent this was true. My husband and I work online from home and our 13-year-old son has always been home-educated. What we were experiencing though was not normal, particularly as our child is medically vulnerable.

Our normal home-learning includes trips to museums, meet-ups with friends, swimming, cinema outings, family travel, and more. It’s enriching for all of us. Now, we keep hearing about the “lost generation” and “long-term damage” of being out of school. My son feels angry. He wants to know if that’s how the world sees him, as a home-educated child? He’s furious at having his future written off so casually. Learning at home does not mean your life is ruined and this language reveals a lot about how homeschooling is perceived.

I’ve grown used to children assuming my son can’t read or write because he doesn’t go to school. They’re often surprised to hear that whilst education is compulsory, school is not. I’ve learned to accept the inevitable “What about socialisation? What about GCSEs?” questions. It seems the general perception of regular homeschooling children is that they spend their days locked away, destined for a life of illiterate delinquency. The reality, of course, is far from this. My son is a voracious reader, is interested in subjects from chemistry to engineering to art, plays piano and guitar, and is confident in social situations. As to whether he will do GCSEs? He might choose to, or he might make different choices. His route is not fixed.

Mother working from home with a kid: Quarantine mode

But these are not normal times for any of us and pandemic schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling. Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless. Author and educator John Holt said: “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”

These are, as we frequently hear, unprecedented times. Why then, is the Department for Education insisting teachers, students, and parents try to replicate school at home? Holt pioneered the term “radical unschooling”, which assumes that all children are curious learners and every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. This can be challenging to trust but maybe it’s what we need right now?

When my son was seven, we spent a year caring for my mother. It was exhausting and traumatic yet, when nurses asked my son what he was learning, I felt guilty. I wasn’t managing formal lessons. I was a bad mother. The guiltier I felt, the harder I tried. One day, after yet another failed maths lesson (it isn’t my strongest subject) my son and I, sat crying on the floor. This way wasn’t going to work, for either of us. I put away the maths books, got out the paints, and, for the next three hours, we painted the garden shed, path, and ourselves until everything was a mess of colour. We ended the day laughing and the shed, though worn now, still makes people smile.

At the end of that year, my son’s life was not ruined. What did he learn? Playing Minecraft online gave him excellent keyboard skills and a strong sense of digital citizenship. Witnessing end-of-life care gave him the opportunity to learn about resilience and compassion. Being there when my mother died helped him learn how to process loss. Learning that it was okay to listen to his needs helped him articulate his feelings. We both grew, and we never returned to formal lessons.

Right now, our priority is learning how to live through extraordinary times. To do so, we need to be flexible, not rigid. Maybe, instead of worrying about algebra, we need to learn how to slow down and give time to our needs. Instead of testing, maybe we need to reflect on our collective grief and fear as we live through it. In place of Zoom classes, maybe we can develop skills in sustaining joyful human connections in a rapidly changing digital world?

This is a time for simple acts of radical gentleness. In the end, it is about loving ourselves, and each other, enough to get through this in one piece, even if that means playing hooky once in a while. The world won’t end if you do. It will be okay.

Victoria Bennett is a writer, creative producer, and full-time home educating mother to a teenage son

Read : Going back to ‘normal’ will be a process, not an event – we must learn to live with Covid

10 years in prison if you hide trip to ‘red zone’ country, says Hancock Welcome to Hancock Travel – check out early and the next 10 years are free

Travel quarantine policy is now deemed so crucial to containing the spread of coronavirus that breaking the rules is as serious as ABH
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/covid-travel-rules-prison-hotel-quarantine-b1799733.html

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The New Yorker

When Reporting Becomes a Defense for Rioting

John Sullivan claims that he was at the Capitol insurrection as a neutral journalist. Others say he was a riot chaser who urged the mob to “burn this shit down.”

By Andrew Marantz
February 3, 2021

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A photo collage of John Sullivan with a group of protesters on the Capitol.

Sullivan has made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. Illustration by Jon Key; Source photographs from John Sullivan / YouTube (portrait 1, 2); Preston Crawley (portrait 3); Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency / Getty (crowd)

John Sullivan, also known as Jayden X, calls himself an activist, a reporter, or an entrepreneur, depending on who’s asking. When I first reached him by phone, he told me that he was “a video journalist, or maybe a documentarian, or whatever you would say—going out there and just live-streaming the events that are transpiring, so that people can see it on the Internet.” He lives near Salt Lake City, but, until recently, he spent most of his time on the road, looking for the next riot: Portland, Seattle, New York. He has tried to associate himself with the Black Lives Matter movement, but many organizers have disavowed him; others have gone further, accusing him of being an “agent provocateur,” a “con artist,” or a “thrill-seeking instigator.” “Riots are meant to bring change, so purge the world with fire,” he tweeted in December. But he has not always been clear about what kind of change he has in mind. “I’m not Antifa,” he told me recently, although he went out of his way to mention that he often wears all black to protests, as many antifascists do. “And I’m not with the Trump supporters,” he continued, although he was among the Trump supporters when a mob of them assaulted the Capitol, on January 6th. Using a Samsung phone mounted on a gimbal, he captured about ninety minutes of raw video—a chilling, near-comprehensive record of the siege. (Reviewing some of the footage, in Artforum, the film critic J. Hoberman called it “cinema as forensic evidence.”) Sullivan has since uploaded his footage to YouTube and provided it to law enforcement; he has also repeatedly tried and largely failed, to explain what he was doing there in the first place.

Sullivan is twenty-six, lean and sharp-featured, and he moves with the lithe precision of a former athlete. He has three younger brothers: James, Peter, and Matthew. “We’re all Black, adopted, and our parents are white,” John told me. “We were raised in a sheltered household and taught to view the world as colorless. Then you grow up and suddenly realize, No, actually, I’m Black, and a lot of the people I grew up around were racist as fuck.” He told me that his father, John Sullivan, Sr., is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who now works in the freight-shipping industry and that his mother, Lisa, is a homemaker. They are conservative—“more conservative than Trump,” Peter told me—and are devout Mormons, although their three eldest sons no longer practice the religion. Growing up, John, Jr., was a nationally ranked speed skater, but he quit in 2018. (On one of his Web sites, he claims that he “competed in the 2018 Olympic Games”; in fact, he only got as far as the Olympic trials.) In 2016, he starred in a slickly produced Uber ad, the conceit of which was that athletes who train at odd hours might want to work part-time in the gig economy. A director’s cut ends with a shot of Sullivan skating to an abrupt stop, followed by the tagline “Find your hustle.”

After graduating from high school, Sullivan said, he thought about joining the Army Reserve and applied to be a police officer in a Salt Lake City suburb. He ended up working in corporate sales instead. Last year, feeling isolated and restless during the pandemic, he decided to start his own business. George Floyd had just been killed, and Sullivan’s social-media feeds filled with rousing images from street protests against police brutality. He went to a local Black Lives Matter protest, wearing a GoPro on his motorcycle helmet, and uploaded his footage to YouTube. After that, he established an L.L.C., called Insurgence USA. Later, on the Web site ActivistJohn.com, he posted a photo of himself raising a clenched fist, with the National Mall in the background, next to the words “John Sullivan is bringing the revolution.” He solicited donations on Patreon and PayPal, offered his services as a motivational speaker, and sold merchandise: black tactical gloves; protective goggles; red baseball caps that looked like Make America Great Again hats, but actually read “Made Ya Look / Black Lives Matter.” He started filling his YouTube channel with footage from street clashes, employing a gonzo-guerrilla aesthetic: balaclavas, billowing clouds of tear gas. “I put my body on the line to bring people the best documentation of history,” Sullivan said. “That’s my thing: When shit’s going down, you follow me and I show you exactly what it’s like.”

More on the Capitol Riot
Ronan Farrow on a Pennsylvania mother’s path to insurrection.

Last June, early in his new career as an activism entrepreneur, Sullivan attended a protest near a police station in Provo, Utah. A pro-police group had organized a “Back the Blue” rally; another group planned an anti-police-brutality demonstration around the same time. (Sullivan’s Insurgence USA organization reportedly promoted the latter event on social media.) The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests last summer were peaceful—more than ninety-five percent, by some estimates—but, at this one, clashes broke out. According to criminal affidavits later filed in state court, one of Sullivan’s fellow-protesters shot a man who was driving near the protest, and Sullivan kicked a woman’s car and threatened to beat her up. (Sullivan claimed that his confrontation started because the woman was trying to run over the protesters.) Sullivan was charged with criminal mischief and “riot,” which was defined, in part, as assembling “with the purpose of engaging . . . in tumultuous or violent conduct.” Sullivan argued that he had simply attended the event as a journalist—not a credentialled and impartial journalist, perhaps, but a journalist nonetheless.

More than once, his brother Peter, who describes himself as “politically moderate,” asked John why he was drawn to potentially violent street actions. “He would talk about his business, how he wanted to be the best video journalist, and that meant taking risks,” Peter recalled. “He would also tell me, ‘You don’t understand, it’s such a surreal experience.’ In addition to the journalism element, I think that rush is something that he really craves.”

John Sullivan made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. He tried to stay abreast of where the next big protest or riot was likely to break out, monitoring activist group chats on Signal and Telegram. “I was able to collaborate with the left in their community to gather information,” Sullivan wrote in an unpublished draft of a memoir. “But I also can connect with the right and successfully be in their presence without them being combative towards me.” When he was surrounded by left-wing activists or right-wing activists, he sometimes gave the impression of being one of them; at other times, he implied that he was working undercover to expose one side or the other. In his recent conversations with me, he emphasized his neutrality. “I want to make sure my First Amendment rights as a journalist are not being forgotten,” he told me.

The First Amendment enshrines, separately, “the freedom of speech” and “of the press.” “If the Speech Clause is the Court’s favorite child, the Press Clause has been the neglected one,” Sonja West, a legal scholar at the University of Georgia, wrote in the Harvard Law Review, in 2014. As a result, West told me, “this remains a fuzzy area of the law.” Can an undercover reporter misrepresent herself in order to get a story? Should a journalist in pursuit of publicly useful information be allowed to do certain things—push past a police barricade, say—that a normal citizen may not? “The Court has indicated that journalists have a special role that deserves protection,” West said. “But it has been very reluctant to say what those protections are.” If a professional reporter follows a crowd of protesters onto private property, the police may refrain from arresting her. If a whistle-blower leaks classified information to a journalist, prosecutors can treat this differently than if the information were leaked to a spy. In West’s Harvard Law Review article, she advocates what she calls “press exceptionalism,” suggesting a kind of checklist—eight “distinct qualities,” including “attention to professional standards” and “a proven ability to reach a broad audience”—that might distinguish the press from “press-like” members of the public. Sullivan checks about half of these boxes, depending on how generously you apply the criteria.

There has never been a clean way to delineate professional journalists from everyone else, and the boundary has only grown blurrier in the selfie-stick era. Defining the press too narrowly risks excluding freelancers and correspondents from nontraditional outlets; defining it too broadly could mean including anyone with a cell phone and a YouTube account. “If everyone has an equal claim to being a reporter, regardless of intent or track record, what it means in practice is that law enforcement won’t be able to tell the difference,” Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school, told me. “Suddenly, you have a situation where anyone can do any crazy thing—like break into the Capitol building, for instance—and then, when the cops show up, they can just take out their phone and say, ‘Hands off, I’m a documentarian.’ ” One of the people who invaded the Capitol on January 6th was Nick Ochs, a Proud Boy from Hawaii, who was later arrested for unlawful entry. “We came here to stop the steal,” Ochs said on a live stream the day of the siege. That night, however, Ochs told CNN that he had entered the Capitol as a professional journalist. He was associated with a far-right new-media collective comprising audio and video talk shows, published on YouTube and other platforms. The name of the collective was Murder the Media.

In July, Sullivan returned to the Provo police station for another demonstration. Standing on a small promontory and holding a megaphone, he gave a short speech. Then, spotting members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups in the crowd, he improvised a kind of olive-branch gesture. “I want to understand you,” he said. “That’s what we’re about here. Getting to know people . . . because then you love them just like your family.” The megaphone was passed to several far-right activists, including a burly Proud Boy in a camouflage vest. The following month, Sullivan, wearing body armor and carrying a long gun, led a few dozen Second Amendment enthusiasts, including both left-wing activists and members of the Utah Constitutional Militia, on an armed march to the state capitol.

The more prominence he gained in local newspapers and TV-news segments, the more vocally left-wing organizers denounced him. (Lex Scott, a founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, told me, “He’s a thorn in our side. We learned to stay away from him long ago.”) Some wondered whether he was a police informant or a spy for a far-right militia. Among their reasons for suspicion was Sullivan’s brother James, a right-wing activist in Utah who had ties to the Proud Boys. (When asked if he had ever collaborated with James, John said, “I have barely spoken to that man in years.”) James currently runs a right-wing Facebook page called Civilized Awakening, which, in addition to the usual links about Trump and voter fraud, seems to specialize in anti-John Sullivan content—for example, a crudely Photoshopped image of John receiving a creepy neck massage from Joe Biden. Recently, on Facebook, James wrote, “I got into activism for one reason, and that was to take down my brother.” An activist from Portland floated a simpler explanation for John Sullivan’s antics: “He came off as someone that was a bit lost and looking for a family/following anywhere he could find it.”

According to left-wing activists, John Sullivan promoted his work online using a fluctuating assortment of handles: @ActivistX, @BlackFistNews, @FascistFighter, @WatchRiotPorn. Sometimes, he appeared to log in to multiple accounts simultaneously, using one to corroborate another. During one group chat on Signal, an organizer warned, “Activist X is not to be trusted.” Sullivan, who was in the chat, brushed it off. “Lol the fuck?” he wrote, using the display name Activist X. “I’ve known Activist X,” the next comment read. “Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me.” This was supposed to appear under the display name Tiger Wolf, but other activists claimed that they could see that it was actually posted by Sullivan, from another one of his phone numbers. “Why did you respond to yourself?” one asked. Another wrote, “I’m burning this chat lol.” (Sullivan denied using the handle Tiger Wolf and others, saying, “People are trying to hack my accounts and misrepresent me.”)

During the fall and winter, as Black Lives Matter protests fizzled and pro-Trump protests grew, Sullivan followed the momentum, live-streaming from far-right events in Washington, D.C., and at the Oregon state capitol. On Election Day, he witnessed a group of Proud Boys, normally implacable supporters of law enforcement, chanting “Fuck the police.” “That was shocking,” he wrote in a draft of his memoir; in his view, the far right’s turn against the police marked “a paradigm shift.” In December, he started to notice chatter on Parler and Telegram indicating that Trump supporters planned to descend on the Capitol. He booked a trip to D.C. In the memoir draft, he recalled thinking that Trump supporters who were angry about the outcome of the election, especially those who “overcame this barrier of supporting the police,” might “unite with Black Lives Matter. . . . I felt that perhaps they would come and fight together against the government.”

In the first shot of Sullivan’s main video from the Capitol, he is standing outside, underneath a set of bleachers erected for Joe Biden’s Inauguration. He angles his camera to take in the crowd behind him: red MAGA hats, yellow Gadsden flags, a man in a fur pelt. Suddenly, the crowd surges up a flight of stairs and toward a line of police barricades. The officers, most of whom do not have helmets or shields, are vastly outnumbered; they hold the line for a few seconds, but they’re quickly overtaken. “This shit’s ours!” Sullivan shouts as the invaders swarm onto a terrace. “We accomplished this shit. We did this shit together! Fuck, yeah!”

Looking over a balustrade to the lawn below, he sees a roiling crowd of thousands of people. He lets out several wonder-struck cheers, his voice cracking with exertion and emotion. “That’s beautiful shit!” he shouts. “Let’s go!” People are climbing up the walls, and he offers one of them a hand up. “Holy shit, dude, that was awesome,” he says. “Let’s burn this shit down.” A few seconds later, Sullivan rests his camera on a ledge and turns to a woman next to him, who is also filming. “I’m just gonna rely on you for footage from now on, is that chill?” he says. “Or should I just keep recording?” But then he presses forward, still taping, following the group through a broken window.Inside the Capitol, Sullivan wanders from room to room more or less at random, as if playing a first-person video game with no clear objective. He marvels at the palatial digs (“This is surreal”; “I’m shook at this!”; “What is life?”) and fantasizes about their destruction. “We’ve gotta burn this,” he says. “We’ve gotta get this shit burnt.” When he is surrounded by Trump supporters, he provides encouragement or advice. When confronted by police officers who ask him to leave, he says, “I’m just filming,” or “No freedom of the press now?” A few times, he tries to persuade police officers to abandon their posts. “We want you to go home,” he tells an officer. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

In the Rotunda, he stops to admire the domed ceiling, watching the afternoon light streaming in from above. “Damn,” he says, relishing the moment. Then, gesturing toward the fresco on the ceiling, he asks the man next to him, “What is this painting?”

“I don’t even know, but I know we in this motherfucker,” the man responds.

“Gang shit, bro,” Sullivan says.

“Make sure you follow me on Instagram,” the man says.

Sullivan continues past Corinthian columns and ruffled red-velvet curtains, into a marble hallway packed with insurrectionists, where the mood turns dark. A woman with a gray ponytail stands inches away from a police officer, vibrating with rage. “Tell fucking Pelosi we’re coming for her!” she shouts. “We’re coming for all of you!” She stops and stares the officer down, as if preparing for battle. “You ready?” she asks.

“I’m ready, bro,” Sullivan says, perhaps to himself. “I’ve been to so many riots.”

Suddenly, the mob pushes past the police and into a small inner corridor. One of the insurrectionists grabs a megaphone and turns to face the others. “We need to remain calm now,” he says. “We’ve made our point. Let’s be peaceful.”

“Fuck that shit,” Sullivan says. “Push!” Several times throughout the video, he can be heard saying, “I got a knife.” (He now claims that he didn’t actually have a knife: “I used that to navigate myself to the front of the crowd.”)

Some of the insurrectionists break away and find another small hallway, leading to a set of wood-and-glass doors. On the other side is a lobby leading to the House chamber. (The mob doesn’t know it, but several members of Congress, staffers, and journalists are still in the process of being evacuated from the chamber.) The insurrectionists use helmets and wooden flag poles to start beating down the door, smashing the glass, and splintering the wood frame. One woman, an Air Force veteran named Ashli Babbitt, starts to approach the door. A plainclothes police officer stands on the other side, wearing a mask and pointing a pistol in the group’s direction. “There’s a gun!” Sullivan says, but Babbitt doesn’t seem to hear. She starts to climb through an opening in the doorway. The officer shoots once and Babbitt falls to the ground, bleeding, eyes open. “She’s dead,” Sullivan says to the man next to him, who identifies himself as a correspondent from the far-right conspiracist network Infowars. “I saw, the light goes out in her eyes.”

“I need that footage, man,” the Infowars correspondent says. “It’s gonna go out to the world.”

“Dude, this shit’s gonna go viral,” Sullivan says.

From his hotel room, Sullivan uploaded his video footage to YouTube. He licensed parts of it to the Washington Post and NBC, and Anderson Cooper interviewed him on CNN. Right away, far-right conspiracy theorists started to use Sullivan for their propaganda efforts. Some tried to suggest that Sullivan was a left-wing plant who had somehow orchestrated the entire insurrection. Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, tweeted a screenshot of what appeared to be a text conversation between himself and James Sullivan, who claimed, baselessly, that there were “226 members of Antifa that instigated the Capitol ‘riot,’ ” and added, “I’m currently working with the FBI to expose and place total blame on John.”

John Sullivan uploaded videos in which he spoke directly to the camera, attempting to justify some of the more incongruous parts of his Capitol footage. “I have emotions, and those moments are crazy,” Sullivan said. In another video, he added, “I was not there to be a participant. I was there to record. But I also have to blend my fucking Black ass into that crowd.” Many of his followers didn’t seem to buy it. When he tweeted, “#TrumpSupporters are making a hit list to take me out,” someone responded, “Stop acting like the victim. . . . You were obviously more involved than what you are playing out.”

“I mean, the FBI doesn’t think so,” Sullivan responded.

A week after the insurrection, James Sullivan says, he sent the F.B.I. tips about his brother. On January 14th, according to John, agents came to his apartment and seized two computers, two cell phones, and his camera equipment. Federal prosecutors announced that Sullivan was being charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct, and one count of interfering with law enforcement. “People are understandably angry and upset, but I’m hoping we don’t respond to mob violence with mob justice,” Mary Corporon, one of Sullivan’s defense attorneys, told me. “It’s going to take a lot of discipline to look at each individual case separately, to give each person a chance to be presumed innocent, but that’s what the Constitution requires.”

A central function of the press is to reveal significant information, including images that the public otherwise would not have seen. “People can say what they want, but nobody else got the footage I got,” Sullivan told me. “That shit was history, and I captured it.” The events leading to Ashli Babbitt’s death are of undeniable import, and we would understand them less well if Sullivan hadn’t documented them. In a dissenting Supreme Court opinion from 1972, Justice Potter Stewart argued that, in order to protect “the full flow of information to the public,” there “must be the right to gather news.” Sullivan and his lawyers may end up arguing that some of his actions on January 6th—shouting support for the mob, for example—were acts of newsgathering, necessary for Sullivan to get as far as he did. This theory would be less helpful, presumably, in explaining away some of Sullivan’s other actions, such as encouraging the invaders to push forward or claiming to have a knife. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, from 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that speech is not protected by the First Amendment if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” This is a high bar, but it’s possible that Sullivan’s speech would clear it.

Sullivan spent the night of January 14th in jail. The next day, he was brought before a judge, who released him on the condition that he wear an ankle monitor and stay in his house except for pre-approved activities. Near the end of the hearing, the prosecutor asked that Sullivan be barred from using the Internet. The defense argued, “It is nearly impossible to find employment in the twenty-first century without some form of Internet access.” In the end, the judge ordered the prosecution and the defense to agree on “a list of social-media sites that you feel would be dangerous for Mr. Sullivan to use.”

Against his lawyers’ advice, Sullivan has called me nearly every day since his release, giving me a Zoom tour of his apartment and sending me a Google Drive of protest footage, snippets from his childhood vlog, and cell-phone recordings from his family’s Thanksgiving. I wondered whether these were acts of defiance or of self-sabotage, but it seemed more likely that he was trying to alleviate his boredom. He showed me his video-editing setup, which includes a ring light, a key light, and a professional microphone with a pop filter—but not his computers, which had been confiscated by the F.B.I. His rhetoric about his trip to D.C. was triumphant—“I think I really accomplished something”—but his body language seemed deflated. He told me that, when he closed his eyes, he still saw images of Babbitt’s shooting. “Even after all the wild stuff I’ve witnessed,” he said, “that was the first time I ever saw anyone die.” Internet sleuths continued to argue about whether he was a far-right plant or an Antifa double agent, but he sounded more like a confused kid who was in over his head.

During one of our conversations, he told me that he hadn’t yet received the list of social-media sites that he would be prohibited from using, but that he had been told to expect a far-ranging ban. “Maybe I’ll be allowed to use LinkedIn, maybe not even that,” he told me. “I’m just watching TV and meditating and trying to steer clear of all of it.” This may have been his goal, but he did spend at least some time lurking on Twitter. I know this because, on January 16th, he followed me. He used one of his old handles, @ActivistJayden. I clicked on the account’s profile and scrolled through its history. It was one of Sullivan’s lesser-used accounts; at the time, it consisted only of a few retweets. There was a live stream of a protest outside a federal prison and a video of a protester playing violin while tear gas spread around him. On New Year’s Eve, @ActivistJayden had retweeted a tweet that read, “Let’s make 2021 the year of political upheaval.” Replying to the tweet from a different account, Sullivan had written, “I’m fucking ready.”


Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Andrew Marantz is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.”More:Donald TrumpBlack Lives MatterTrumpismActivistsJournalistsRiotsProtestTrump-Biden Transition

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