Hello CivMixers. We (almost) have made it through another Tuesday.
Today, the World Health Organization had to re-address recent comments about whether asymptomatic people with the novel coronavirus are actually spreading it. Yesterday, Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, sparked debate by saying such transmission is “very rare.”
Today, it turns out there’s still not enough information to determine the actual numbers on that.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico and 14 states have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, having their worst weeks yet in the global pandemic. Public health experts are alarmed, as all across the U.S. many states are relaxing their pandemic shutdown requirements.
We can only wait and see what develops as we continue reopening. And now, onto today’s 5 Things…
1) As George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed in Minneapolis by a former white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was laid to rest, another black man was confirmed as the Air Force Chief of Staff for the first time in U.S. history.
General Charles Brown, 58, was confirmed unanimously in a rare 98-0 vote by the U.S. Senate. Even Vice President Mike Pence was on hand, which is an unusual thing for him.
Brown is currently the commander of the Pacific Air Forces.
This comes as the Trump administration has been issuing orders to have the National Guard help control protests and demonstrations taking place in response to Floyd’s death, and has even threatened to engage active-duty troops. In response to this, a number of military leaders have spoken out, relating personal and often emotional stories about the difficult state of race relations in the military.
Brown posted a video in which he emotionally shared details of his career with the AAF, where he was the sole black man in his squad as a senior officer. He talked about wearing the same uniform as everyone else, yet still being questioned if he was really a pilot.
He expressed hope that that he can help to make a positive change in his new role.
“I am thinking about how I can make improvements, personally, professionally and institutionally so that all airmen, both today and tomorrow, appreciate the value of diversity and can serve in an environment where they can reach their full potential.”
-General Charles Brown, US Air Force Chief of Staff
2) Chicago has long been plagued by gun violence. However, on Sunday, May 31, the city hit a new high – or low, depending on how you look at it – with 18 homicides occurring in a single day.
That day, the Chicago Police Department responded to the single highest number of calls for homicides in its long and bumpy history, according to University of Chicago Crime Lab’s senior research director Max Kapustin.
On the whole, it was the deadliest weekend endured by Chicago’s residents in 28 years. The previous most violent day occurred on August 4, 1991, with a total of 13 gun-related deaths.
June 1, the Cook County chief medical examiner, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, had so many autopsies to conduct that he had to call in help to finish. All told, 35 autopsies took place that day, including 15 there were gun-related.
The calls came in the period from May 29 at 6 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on May 31. There were approximately 73 incidents, including 92 people shot. Twenty-seven of those people were killed. This was a week after 10 people died and 49 people were shot over the Memorial Day weekend.
David Brown, Superintendent of the CPD, said that was the most shootings to occur on a Memorial Day weekend in five years. According to Brown, there was increased violence as a result of gang disputes, illegal drug sales, and people responding to being on lockdown over the coronavirus.
3) The incident in Buffalo last weekend in which a 75-year-old civil rights activist was pushed to the ground by several police officers has become Twitter fodder for President Donald Trump.
Trump tweeted that the incident was a result of some sort of elaborate set-up by the ANTIFA – with no evidence to back that up. Most Republican senators spent the day trying to avoid commenting on the commander-in-chief’s latest claim.
A few did agree to comment, among them was Utah’s Mitt Romney, who participated in a protest march in D.C. over the weekend. He said he was “shocked” by the president’s tweet, and then refused to dignify it by saying anything else.
The Senate Majority Whip, Republican John Thune, of South Dakota, said Trump’s accusation was dangerous and should not have been made with no supporting evidence.
The two officers directly involved in the Buffalo incident were fired. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the incident was disgraceful and uncalled for. There is currently an investigation underway.
4) There is one more week to mail in your absentee ballots for school district votes. However, you have missed the chance to drop them off in person.
There is a lot of confusion over the shifting deadline, and many districts have said they do not need the extra time.
It is clear, however, that today was the deadline for in-person drop-offs. Cuomo extended the mail-in date, bypassing his previous executive order that set the deadline at June 16.
Though some districts feel that the extended deadline helps them out by allowing residents to re-register and maybe even will bring more people out to vote, others think it has taken time away from their time to make a new plan if their budgets do not pass.
The districts are all hoping to pass their budgets for next year before the end of the current fiscal year, which begins around the state on July 1.
According to a representative from the governor’s office, extra time was granted upon the request of school boards.
5) Lark Street in Albany was undergoing a makeover this afternoon as the phrase “Black Lives Matter” painted in bright yellow block letters onto the street.
This adds Albany to a growing list of many cities across the nation that have gone in this direction. One that has gotten the most attention was on 16th Street in Washington, where the words were painted on the road leading to the White House, and was renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
There is no information yet as to who is paid for the painting on Lark Street, how much the undertaking cost, or who commissioned it.
That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.