Obama echoes Biden remarks that police response to Capitol riots would have been harsher with BLM


Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter Friday to address why Civil Rights groups and lawmakers are furious over the vastly different approach law enforcement took to Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol breach compared to last summer’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

Obama posted three articles to his Twitter that looked at different explanations as to why law enforcement and federal authorities were under-prepared for an event that led to the first time the Capitol was raided in over 200 years.

BIDEN JOINS CLAIMS OF ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’ DIRECTED TOWARD US CAPITOL RIOTERS

A study reported by FiveThirtyEight found that between May and November last year, authorities were “more than twice as likely to attempt to break up” a left-leaning protest than a right-leaning protest.

The study, conducted by the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, also found that when law enforcement did chose to act, they were more likely to use force “34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent with left-wing protests.”

President-elect Joe Biden also expressed his belief that had the crowds of men dressed in face paint and protective riot gear storming the Capitol been BLM supporters, the response by law enforcement would have looked differently.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable,” Biden said in a Thursday address.  “Totally unacceptable.”

Some on Capitol Hill also agreed with the president-elect. “We would have been shot, had we tried to do all of that,” freshmen Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night. 

Bush, who took shelter in her office with her staff — just three days after being sworn into office — as rioters flooded through the Capitol building, got her start as a BLM organizer after first marching in Ferguson following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.

Obama also referenced an article in The New Yorker that claimed the Capitol Police just didn’t take the threat of Trump’s supporter’s seriously, adding the protesters were “familiar enough to be dismissed as clowns.”

“The invaders may be full of contempt for a system that they think doesn’t represent them, but on Wednesday they managed to prove that it does,” the article written by Masha Gessen read. 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris voiced her frustration over the scene of pro-Trump supporters climbing the walls of the Capitol, breaking windows and barring doors said, “We have witnessed two systems of justice.”

“One that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer,” she continued.

HOW WEDNESDAY’S CAPITOL RIOT COME TO FRUITION AND WHO MADE IT HAPPEN

Obama echoed Harris’ frustration by pointing out a CNN article that described strategic differences law enforcement took between Wednesday and last summer. The article included a photo that showed three rows of armed National Guard lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

But conservative groups have pushed back on the incoming administration and their claims of a double standard — accusing Biden and Harris of “gas lighting.”

“Four people are dead after what happened yesterday. And you know what? People died last summer, too. Countless businesses destroyed. People’s livelihoods set on fire and stolen. You refused to condemn that violence. Yesterday was horrific, but you’ve lost your right to moralize,” National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis wrote on Twitter.

“This is complete nonsense,” conservative writer A.G. Hamilton said in reaction to Biden’s remarks. “It’s gaslighting that requires ignoring what we actually witnessed on a nightly basis last summer.”

Though Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had arranged for 340 National Guardsmen to be present in the city on Wednesday, none of them were armed or located at the Capitol at the start of the riots.

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The Pentagon later approved the full deployment of D.C.’s 1,800 National Guardsmen along with more soldiers from nearby Virginia and Maryland, but it took time for them to mobilize and travel to the Capitol.

FBI and ATF officers were immediately called in to assist the Capitol Police are they were overwhelmed by rioters.

One Capitol Police officer was killed during the raid.

Thank you for dropping in and seeing this news release involving United States and International news called “Obama echoes Biden remarks that police response to Capitol riots would have been harsher with BLM”. This story was posted by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

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US retail bloodshed has echoes of the Great Depression


That changed, though, with the advent of the first chain stores. These included general-merchandise stores like Woolworths, which sold cheap factory-made goods, and the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P. These and other early chains pioneered new methods of retailing that eventually became the norm.

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As historian Marc Levinson has shown, A&P began building stores that were the forerunners of today’s supermarkets. A&P sold standardized packaged foods and built stores with predictable layouts; maintained lean inventories; and embraced the benefits that came with economies of scale. A&P bypassed wholesalers, buying directly from manufacturers – and in some cases, purchased food producers to secure further control over the supply chain.

As these chain stores muscled into towns and cities, they began challenging the hold that small-time retailers had enjoyed. By the late 1920s, independents began pushing for special state taxes to slow them down.

And then the Great Depression hit. By one estimate, retail sales fell 50 per cent between 1929 and 1933. But this cataclysm did not hit the retail sector equally.

A 1946 study mined census surveys and an obscure report from Commerce Department to create a data set on retailing during this critical period. In order to determine which variables were most predictive of a retailer’s survival during the Great Depression, the researchers ran a series of regression analyses.

If past patterns hold, some well-established but sophisticated national chains that put a premium on human capital are going to come out on top. The rest will be lucky to survive.

They found that older retail establishments – ones that had already weathered previous, if smaller, storms – tended to survive the early 1930s at higher rates than newer establishments. Veteran establishments, after all, have a longer track record of success and more experience navigating challenges. These reputational assets allow them easier access to the kind of credit necessary to weather a severe crisis. (This dynamic also resurfaced in the Great Recession that followed 2008.)

At the same time, though, a particular kind of well-established retailer was more likely than others to survive the Great Depression: chain stores. Several studies have confirmed this outcome. For example, an in-depth examination of grocery stores in Washington, DC, between 1929 and 1935 found that A&P and its peers had better chances of survival than independents – a remarkable outcome, given that many New Deal policies favored small-time retailers.

Like older firms, chain stores enjoy economies of scale and purchasing power. They likewise had access to lines of credit that ordinary mom-and-pop businesses did not.

There was another important factor. By one measure, stores with higher levels of labour productivity had a better shot at survival. But this wasn’t just a matter of working employees harder. The 1946 study also found that retailers paying higher wages had greater odds of making it than those that cut labor costs.

This is puzzling at first glance. In the struggle for survival that took hold of retailing in the 1930s, slashing wages was the easiest way to hold down costs. Many grocers opted for that strategy – and went under.

Smaller retailers are struggling to recover from the pain inflicted by the pandemic.Credit:AP

By contrast, the most sophisticated chain stores – A&P in particular – did not, holding wages steady even though it temporarily hurt their bottom line. Those better-paid, experienced employees likely had more incentive and ability to help the company weather the storm.

Fast forward 90 years, and past A&P’s bankruptcy filing in 2015. Thanks to COVID-19, we’re subjecting the nation’s retailers to another extreme stress test with similar results. Independents, not large, well-capitalized chain stores, are taking a huge hit. And the firms accelerating changes in retail – Amazon, Target, Walmart – are strengthening while many smaller establishments go to the wall.

At the same time, though, the established national retailers that have done the best in these trying times are the ones that, like A&P, have a reputation for logistics and high investments in human capital. Target, which raised its starting minimum wage this summer, has seen record sales. So, too, has Costco, another massive retailer with a reputation for prioritizing employees.

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While it’s too soon to know whether these trends will hold, there’s a good chance that the pandemic may unleash a wave of creative destruction on retail the likes of which has not been seen since the 1930s. That may be overdue given the surfeit of retail space in this country. But this destruction won’t be indiscriminate. If past patterns hold, some well-established but sophisticated national chains that put a premium on human capital are going to come out on top. The rest will be lucky to survive.

Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia, is a contributor to Bloomberg Opinion.

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Emotional Blues star Angus Crichton echoes NSW’s anguish after loss


Angus Crichton comes to terms with a stunning series loss to Queensland.Credit:Getty

“It really hurts,” he said. “There’s no two ways about it. We’re all hurting at the moment. It was a good contest. It’s always a tough game and we’re going to go home, have a few beers and enjoy the end of the season.

“It’s been a really big year for a lot of us guys. The NRL has been under a microscope this year and the intensity … you’re always looking over your shoulder at the shopping centre [in case of a protocol breach].

“It was a whole different sort of year; everything has been amplified and intensified. Everyone is keen to put their feet up for a bit now.”

The Blues come to terms with a series loss to Queensland as the Maroons celebrate their win in Origin III.

The Blues come to terms with a series loss to Queensland as the Maroons celebrate their win in Origin III.Credit:Getty Images

The most difficult aspect for Crichton to compute was his feeling that the Blues were not only in the physical contest but always in the game, even when they were down 20-6 and forced to defend their line time and time again.

With Christian Welch returning, Kurt Capewell adding some grit to the edges and Lindsay Collins once again outstanding off the bench, the Maroons forwards were a different proposition from game two. But Crichton felt the Blues pack was at least their equal for most of the night.

“I still felt like we were on top through the forwards there; I still felt from the get-go that we had [won] those collisions, I felt we were winning that,” he said. “Just a few little slip-ups led to easy yards for them and all of a sudden they were attacking our line.

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“Throughout the whole game, I felt we were in it. Our defence was outstanding. We had a solid crack. They’ve got players like [Cameron] Munster and [Dane] Gagai that love bouncing back across the grain, that hurt us a bit.



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Keir Starmer’s suspension of Jeremy Corbyn echoes Kinnock’s purge of Militant Tendency | UK News


Less than a year ago, Jeremy Corbyn was Labour’s candidate to be prime minister.

Now, he has been cast into the wilderness, suspended from the party, by his successor as Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

The ruthless action by Sir Keir looks like the most brutal purge of the Labour left since Neil Kinnock took on the Militant Tendency in the 1980s.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension came after the release of the EHRC report on antisemitism in the Labour Party

Was Sir Keir hoping for Mr Corbyn’s unapologetic reaction, so that he could suspend his predecessor? He would no doubt dismiss that as a conspiracy theory too far.

Mr Corbyn’s crime, however, in the eyes of the former director of public prosecutions who now leads the party, was not his record on antisemitism during his tenure as Labour leader.

Instead, it was his defiant reaction to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report, claiming the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

It was his lack of remorse, his failure to apologise, his denial that he was “part of the problem” and claim that the antisemitism furore had been exaggerated.

Mr Corbyn’s suspension comes four years after his oldest and closest friend in politics, Ken Livingstone, was suspended from the party in April 2106.

To this day, Mr Livingstone – a former member of the party’s national executive and, after an initial period as an independent, Labour mayor of London – remains out in the cold.

If Mr Corbyn is out of the party for as long as four years, he won’t be able to stand as Labour candidate in Islington North – or anywhere else – at the next election.

Neil Kinnock, leader of the Labour Party and member of Parliament, at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, Lancashire, U.K., on Monday, October 3, 1988. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)
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Keir Starmer’s move echoes the battle between Neil Kinnock and the Militant Tendency

If that’s the case it will be an ignominious end to a Parliamentary career spanning almost 40 years, pursuing left-wing causes such as unilateral nuclear disarmament with vigour.

But as he demonstrated with the provocative reaction to the EHRC report that got him suspended, Mr Corbyn has served notice that he won’t go without a fight.

And even if he is forced out of Parliament, Mr Corbyn’s hard-left crusade will go on, as his hero Tony Benn’s did when he stepped down as an MP.

Before then, however, Sir Keir must prepare himself for a potentially bloody civil war with the Left.



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Echoes of Pearl Harbour in latest US moves on China


Meanwhile, the US is headed for an unprecedented election cycle with some commentators suggesting it may lead to “a second American civil war” which could erupt if the losing side takes to armed resistance or looting. Out of 330 million Americans, there are 400 million civilian firearms. Even Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg cautioned that “there’s a ‘heightened risk’ of ‘violence or civil unrest’ in the wake of the November election”.

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Between the November 3 election and the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration, there may be unprecedented levels of court challenges, partisan deadlock and street violence. The Biden campaign has already engaged 600 lawyers in anticipation.

These coming months of US instability may present China with the opportunity to change the facts on the ground and water in the Asia Pacific. Already acting more assertively, China may seize the opportunity to hit four birds with one stone; bring Taiwan back into the One-China fold, secure advanced semiconductor facilities, damage US technology supply chains and to demonstrate that America no longer dominates the region.

In August 2019, a US Studies Centre report concluded that “America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific”. A May 2020 report in The Times noted that “the United States would be defeated in a sea war w

ith China and would struggle to stop an invasion of Taiwan”. Also in May, Reuters reported that America was planning to deploy missile capabilities into the region so as to counter “China’s overwhelming advantage in land-based cruise and ballistic missiles”.

Some military planners think China will not need to use missiles or barges to advance its interests in Taiwan. It could use “salami tactics” through economic and social disruptions. For example, damaging Taiwan’s electricity grid, sabotaging underwater internet cables or blocking oil tankers.

Were China to escalate in Taiwan, Australia’s security would be collaterally impacted with more than 50 per cent of our exports going to, and near 40 per cent of our imports coming from China, Japan and South Korea; all trade routes that pass through the area.

The possibility of a regional power shift should be keeping the lights burning in Canberra as government advisors and planners think about American instability and China’s dependence on imported semiconductors.

Dimitri Burshtein is Sydney based former NSW Treasury policy analyst who now works in Asian commodity financial markets.

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The sport’s biggest shake-up in a century echoes NBA’s three-point evolution


Longer shots do come at a cost. Two-pointers are about eight times more likely to fly out-of-bounds. Overall, teams retained the ball 46 per cent of the time from long misses, compared to 59 per cent of those closer in.

Shots taken from more than three metres away are worth two points.

Shots taken from more than three metres away are worth two points.Credit:Super Netball

On top of that, a team is slightly less likely to be next to score after a long miss than closer in – but not by enough to outweigh an extra point. In fact, if you remove the Firebirds from the equation, who struggled with the shot early in the season, Champion Data says two-point attempts have been worth about 22 per cent more in the long run this season.

Like it or not, elite sport is a numbers game. Take basketball, for example: the mid-range shot all but disappeared from the NBA as players got too good from three-point range. The numbers are similar: a mid-range attempt in the NBA was worth about 0.85 points between 2013 and 2018, compared to about 1.10 from beyond the arc. Those that stuck with the mid-range shot were left behind and teams eventually conformed.

So, it’s settled. Say goodbye to the one-point shot – for five minutes a quarter, at least. Giants shooter Jo Harten, a critic of the super shot despite being the early standout, says it’s not that simple.

“[The shot itself is] not harder,” says Harten. “But if you’re behind … there’s a mentality shift in how you prepare for each shot and the weight of what that means.”

For more than a century the aim of the game was to get the ball into a player’s hands as close to the hoop as possible. As shooters drift further from the hoop they have to contend with midcourters, who have adapted by dropping back and clogging the top of the circle.

“You’re running at weird angles to try and land in the two-point zone while the ball is being lifted over the [defenders] out the front … it’s a weird line as a shooter to run because usually you run in a straight line towards the post.”

Another arguably overshadowed change was the introduction of unlimited rolling subs, where players can come on during play.

When teams found out about the super shot the Giants considered bringing on specialist long-range shooters for those periods but tradition prevailed. Players and coaches won’t view the game as being won and lost on a spreadsheet.

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“If you can try and maintain as steady a partnership as possible you’re probably going to get a better result than switching on three or four shooters,” Harten says.

Super Netball will review the changes at the end of the season. It says it never considered increasing the points earned for both shots; a rise to two and three points would make the super shot worth just 50 per cent more. The only debate was of distance.

Sport does lose a bit of its magic if you obsess over analytics but their merit is proven. We will see teams embrace the super shot yet lose games but, in the long run, those that ignore the numbers are destined to be left behind.

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1918 HMAT Boonah flu tragedy echoes cruise ship COVID-19 debacle


The refusal to allow cruise liner Artania to dock in Fremantle echoes the quarantining of HMAT Boonah in Fremantle for “Spanish flu” in late 1918, writes history editor Dr Glenn Davies.

THE SAGAS OF cruise liners and COVID-19 infections are occurring around the world. This is an issue of pressing interest for Australia. At the forefront of the minds of Australians is the recent quarantining of Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan, the current Ruby Princess cruise liner infection debacle, the hundreds of Australian’s trapped on cruise liners anchored off the North and South American coasts, and the direction of six foreign cruise liners along the NSW coast to leave Australian waters and return to their home ports.

Just over one hundred years ago, HMAT Boonah arrived in Fremantle, WA, arrived with over 300 Australian soldiers infected with “Spanish flu”.

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, or “Spanish flu” remains among the greatest natural disasters of recorded history. Emerging in Europe in the final months of the Great War, in little over a year the pandemic swept around the world, killing at least 50 million people, at least four times more than the deaths caused by the First World War. Few families or communities escaped its effects.

While its exact origins are still debated, it’s understood that the “Spanish Flu” did not come from Spain. The name seems to have arisen as reporting about influenza cases in war-affected countries was censored. However, as Spain was neutral, frequent stories appeared about the deadly flu in Spain.

It’s unlikely that the “Spanish Flu” changed the outcome of World War I because combatants on both sides of the battlefield were relatively equally affected. However, there is little doubt that the war profoundly influenced the course of the pandemic. Concentrating millions of troops created ideal circumstances for the development of more aggressive strains of the virus and its spread around the globe.

During 1919 the “Spanish Flu” in about a third of all Australians becoming infected and nearly 15,000 people dying in under a year. These figures match the average annual death rate for the Australian Imperial Force throughout 1914-18. More than 5,000 marriages were affected by the loss of a partner and over 5000 children lost one or both parents. In 1919, almost 40 per cent of Sydney’s population had influenza, more than 4,000 people died and in some parts of Sydney, influenza deaths comprised up to 50 per cent of all deaths.

It wasn’t just the influenza pandemic victims who were affected. Across Australia, regulations intended to reduce the spread and impact of the pandemic caused profound disruption. The nation’s quarantine system held back “Spanish Flu” for several months, meaning that a less deadly version came ashore in 1919. But it caused delay and resentment for the 180,000 soldiers, nurses and partners who returned home by sea that year.

The 1,200 troops on-board HMAT Boonah was the last Australian troopship to leave Fremantle, WA bound for the trenches of the Western Front in World War I. But it wasn’t the battlefields of Europe that claimed dozens of their young lives, instead meeting their fate with Spanish influenza in Perth’s southern suburbs.

As the last troopship to leave Australia sailed towards Europe, the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918. Three days the HMAT Boonah docked in Durban, South Africa to re-coal before heading back to Australia. Although the Aussie troops weren’t allowed to go to shore in Durban, they mingled with local men re-coaling the ship to buy ostrich feathers as souvenirs. This encounter proved a deadly mistake for dozens on-board infected by the “Spanish flu”.

As the disappointed soldiers sailed back across the Indian Ocean, they referred to themselves in the Boonah Buzzer, an onboard publication produced by the soldiers, as part of the “too blooming late brigade”. The Boonah Boomerang, or The Log of the Lucky Ship, another onboard publication, recorded that one man had already been lost at sea after becoming delirious and jumping overboard in the night. By the time the troopship reached the shores of Fremantle, Western Australia on 11 December 1918, more than 300 of the men on board were infected.

The HMAT Boonah wasn’t allowed to dock in Fremantle and initially, the soldiers were refused permission to disembark and were left anchored in Gage Roads. The disease had not yet affected Western Australia, and the authorities were hesitant to allow the troops to disembark.

The conditions aboard were very poor and overcrowded. The food was of very poor quality, the potatoes so bad that the doctors ordered them to be thrown overboard. It would have been heartbreaking for the Perth soldiers to come so close to home soil, to actually see the lights of Fremantle, and to know their family was waiting for them and they couldn’t leave the ship. The contingent of WA soldiers was on the verge of revolt.

After a few days anchored in Gage Roads, after much public outcry, approval was granted for 300 of the most unwell soldiers to be ferried to the nearby Woodman’s Point Quarantine Station. It took three days for the sick men to be off-loaded but the next problem was a lack of medical staff to tend to them.     

With no medical staff to care for the soldiers, authorities desperately turned to a ship of military nurses on board SS Wyreema, also on its way back to Australia. The SS Wyreema from Sydney included a group of forty Australian army nursing sisters bound for Thessalonica (Salonika). The SS Wyreema turned around at Cape Town, South Africa, when the Armistice was declared and arrived back at Fremantle on 10 December 1918.

The small station was soon overrun with sick troops, who were set up in tents outside. Meanwhile, Woodman Point was becoming seriously over-crowded. Built to take 30 patients at most, it was now housing 600. Then people started dying.

Sister Rosa O’Kane was selected as one of the 20 volunteers to tend the infected soldiers at the Woodman’s Point Quarantine Station Hospital. It was at the Quarantine Station that she contracted “Spanish flu” and was the first of the hospital staff to die on 21 December 1918.

Her death was deeply felt and served as a tragic omen to her hard-pressed colleagues. Of the 20 nurses from the SS Wyreema who volunteered to care for the infected soldiers, 15 contracted the flu and four made the supreme sacrifice: Army staff nurses Rosa O’Kane, Doris Ridgway and Ada Thompson, and civilian nurse Hilda Williams.

The tragedy also claimed the lives of 26 soldiers.

The HMAT Boonah was quarantined in Gage Roads for nine days. Cases of influenza continued to break out on the ship and the number of men sent into quarantine rose to 381 and the death toll had already reached eight. The men still in quarantine aboard the ship tried to make the best of things. However, the Boonah was an iron vessel and little shade was provided for the large contingent still on board. Some started fishing and caught a number of sharks and large fish some of which were deposited in the ship’s pool to keep them fresh.

The press soon took up the case of the men stuck on the ship. The WA Government wanted to take the troops to Rottnest but the Commonwealth insisted they stay at sea until the ship had been clean of new infections for 24 hours.

To be a clean ship, it had to be clean of infection for 24 hours. However, every day fresh cases were discovered. The Returned Servicemen’s Association threatened that if the men weren’t brought to shore on Rottnest Island, they would go out in boats and take the men themselves. Then, all of a sudden, on 20 December 1918, because of the political furore that was taking place, the ship was declared clean. This was completely untrue because when the HMAT Boonah cleared Fremantle Harbour, but before it reached Port Adelaide, where the men disembarked, another 20 cases were discovered.

Most of the dead were buried at Woodman Point, south of Perth. In the 1980s they were moved to Hollywood War Cemetery in Nedlands. However, the graves of nurses Rosa O’Kane and HG Williams still remain. In the century since, the surroundings are overgrown with bushland, but the graves are maintained by the Friends of Woodman Point Recreation Camp.

There are few commemorations to remember the devastating pandemic. However, the restoration of Woodman Point Quarantine Station serves as a reminder of Australian soldiers and nurses who died of “Spanish flu”.

In Perth, the combination of the city’s relative isolation and effective state border quarantine control ensured that “Spanish flu” didn’t appear significantly there until June 1919. Perth experienced a spike in infections after crowds gathered to celebrate Peace Day on 19 July 1919.

It seems to be for a country surrounded by water, the management of nautical entry would have been better developed since the Boonah Tragedy of 1918.

You can follow history editor Dr Glenn Davies Glenn on Twitter @DrGlennDavies.

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