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Vaccine Protests Prove the Only Personal Liberties Cops Care About Are Their Own

Mother Jones Magazine -

One of the biggest threats to public safety right now is the people who are charged with protecting it. As both the virus and the culture wars over how to end the pandemic rage, law enforcement officials continue to be some of the loudest voices among those determined to prolong the coronavirus emergency, all in the name of personal liberty of course.

“My body, my choice,” New Jersey police and firefighter protesters chanted earlier this month in a gross appropriation of the movement for reproductive rights. Unfortunately for those first responders, vaccination is not a personal choice. Like their counterparts in the I’m-anti-vaccine-for-political-purposes movement, police officers are framing their choice to opt out of getting vaccinated as a matter of individual freedom. Nevermind this is simply not how public health works, as this one woman who infected her 4-year-old daughter, who later died, had to find out in a very tragic way. 

How can an entity that routinely tramples on other’s individual freedom now have the audacity to claim the mantle of individual liberty? 

While there is no official database tracking vaccine stats for police officers, a quick look at the numbers city-by-city shows a much lower rate than the national one (76 percent of adults nationally have received one shot or more). In New York, 47 percent of cops were vaccinated, as of last month. In Los Angeles, where thousands of LA Police Department employees are seeking exemptions from the vaccine mandate, 54 percent of staff are vaccinated.

This all begs the question: How can an entity that routinely tramples on other’s individual freedom now have the audacity to claim the mantle of individual liberty? 

To be clear, this isn’t even really in their self interest: In the first six months of 2021, 155 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, with 71 of those deaths related to COVID-19. It’s the profession’s leading cause of death so far this year. The end-of-year numbers will inevitably be even more grim. Despite law enforcement’s insistence that their purpose is to keep the public safe, their refusal to police individual officers has made it abundantly clear that safety is simply not a priority. 

Across the country, cops have been loudly pushing back against vaccine requirements. When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine mandate for city employees, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police acted accordingly. “We’re in America, goddamn it. We don’t want to be forced to do anything. Period,” FOP president John Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times, without a hint of irony. Don’t worry, it gets worse: “This ain’t Nazi fucking Germany, [where they say], ‘Step into the fucking showers. The pills won’t hurt you.’ What the fuck?” he continued. (Not that this really should need saying, but as a rule of thumb, you should never compare anything to the Holocaust, where approximately 6 million Jewish people were murdered. But you really, really shouldn’t compare vaccines and public health mandates designed to save lives to a literal genocide.)

Meanwhile, out west, police officers have threatened to quit over vaccines. When Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a vaccine mandate for all city employees, the police union balked. “​​[M]any first responders are deeply opposed to vaccine mandates; so deeply that some will leave the profession before accepting a mandate,” Anil Karia, an attorney for the Portland Police Association, wrote in an email obtained by the Willamette Weekly. In San Francisco, the Deputy Sheriff’s Union vowed to quit their jobs over Mayor London Breed’s vaccine requirements. “[P]ublic safety of San Franciso has turned into the Wild West and will get worse when officers quit due to the vaccine mandate,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post laden with grammatical errors.

Even in New York City, the virus’ first hotspot, cops would rather get infected and die than get vaccinated—even when it goes against advice of the top brass. In August, the New York Police Department commissioner Dermot Shea reported that three employees had died from the virus and implored the rest of the force to get vaccinated. “Do everything you can at this time to make sure that you are protected. Get vaccinated,” he said. Since that start of the pandemic last year, 60 NYPD officers have died from the virus. 

“We’re in America, goddamn it. We don’t want to be forced to do anything. Period.”

Anti-vaccine law enforcement is a risk to all of us, but more so for the people more likely to have interactions with them. The people they frequently make contact with—low-income people, the homeless community, and people of color—already have a higher risk of being infected and dying from the virus and have the least amount of access to the vaccine. Law enforcement’s refusal to act in the interest of public health could have deadly consequences for the most marginalized among us.

The full-scale revolt against vaccines is just another instance of police officers believing they’re above the rules. Even their own. After all, take a look at some of the high-profile shootings that have occurred in the last several years. Cities will ban certain chokeholds, and police officers will still use them on alleged suspects, like in the case of Eric Garner in New York. In fact, many of the new reforms introduced after the spate of police killings in 2020 are being actively ignored by police departments across the country, as Mother Jones reported earlier this year.  The list of people of color who have been stopped by or harassed by police for exercising their freedom to go shopping, ride a bike, own a gun, or drive down the street is endless. The system is simple: The arbitrary rules apply to you, but the very real rules don’t apply to police.

Recently, but especially since Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, all we’ve heard from law enforcement is that cops are here to protect us. Anti-police brutality protests and movements to defund the police have been criticized for being anti-public safety. It’s the common battle cry dispensed by pro-police groups, even after violent encounters: Who but the police can keep us safe? Now, faced with a deadly pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 666,000 people in the United States alone, countless police officers have made a decision that will clearly make more of us unsafe. It’s almost as if they never cared about public safety at all. 

El Salvador Becomes First Nation to Make Bitcoin Legal Tender Amid Growing Authoritarianism

Democracy Now! -

Thousands in El Salvador took to the streets Wednesday to protest President Nayib Bukele’s growing consolidation of power and a new law making El Salvador the world’s first country to recognize the highly volatile cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal tender. Protesters in El Salvador are also criticizing a recent court ruling that paves the way for Bukele to run for reelection in 2024. El Salvador’s turn to bitcoin comes as a “surprise” to many, but has been pushed by Bukele as a way to lessen remittance fees, says Jorge Cuéllar, an assistant professor of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean studies at Dartmouth College. “There’s no reason why bitcoin should be at the top of the government agenda in a moment of pandemic, of water stress, of food insecurity, of depressed wages,” Cuéllar says. “People are very suspicious of this.”

As Wealthy Nations Debate Giving Booster Vaccine Shots, Calls Grow for Global Vaccine Equity

Democracy Now! -

As the debate over booster vaccine shots heats up in the United States, global health leaders have issued an urgent call for global vaccine equity. The WHO reports vaccination rates on the African continent fall far below its target for 70% of the population of all countries to be vaccinated by mid-2022. “The science is not completely behind the need for booster shots yet,” says Zane Dangor, special adviser to the foreign minister of South Africa, who has called on the U.S. to come up with a proposal for allowing other countries to manufacture vaccines. “This is an emergency that affects all of us because variants are coming from areas where there are large numbers of unvaccinated people,” adds infectious disease specialist Dr. Joia Mukherjee.

The Other Afghan Women: Rural Areas Hope Taliban Rule Will End Decades of U.S. & Warlord Violence

Democracy Now! -

Violence in Afghanistan’s countryside has reportedly dropped after the Taliban takeover and the withdrawal of U.S. troops, but the country continues to face an ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis, with millions of children at risk of starvation. Joining us from Kabul, New Yorker reporter Anand Gopal says he was shocked by the “sheer level of violence” Afghan women outside the cities have experienced in the last two decades of war. “The level of human loss was really extraordinary,” Gopal says. “I think we’ve grossly undercounted the number of civilians who died in this war.”

Headlines for September 16, 2021

Democracy Now! -

Black Men Are Pushed to Pursue Sports. Why Not Medicine?

Mother Jones Magazine -

This story was originally published by Undark and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Aaron Bolds didn’t consider becoming a physician until he tore a ligament in his knee while playing in a basketball tournament when he was 15. His orthopedic surgeon was Black, and they hit it off. “He was asking me how my grades were, and I told him, ‘I’m a straight-A student,’ and he was, like, ‘Man, this is a great fallback plan if basketball doesn’t work out,’” recalls Bolds, who is African American.

“He looked like me,” Bolds says, “and that was even more encouraging.” 

If not for that chance encounter, Bolds, 34, a doctor at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, might never have gone into medicine, he says. When he was growing up, there were no physicians in his family or extended social network to model that career path. And at the schools he attended, he says, his aptitude for science didn’t trigger the kind of guidance young people often receive in more privileged contexts.

What Bolds did get attention for was his athletic ability. He got a full basketball scholarship to Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, where his team won a conference championship. But when he transferred to Bowie State University in Maryland, where he also played basketball, an academic adviser discouraged his pre-med ambitions, Bolds recalls, saying his grades were low and he lacked research experience.

Bolds is not alone in finding in athletics a fraught lever of educational opportunity. Whereas Black players comprise more than half the football and basketball teams at the 65 universities in the top five athletic conferences, and bring in millions of dollars for their schools year after year, the graduation rates for Black male college athletes are significantly lower—55 percent as compared to 69 percent for college athletes overall—according to a 2018 report from the USC Race and Equity Center. Many Black college athletes end up without either a professional sports contract or a clear career path. 

The proportion of Black men enrolling in medical school hasn’t changed much since 1978.

Now some educators and advocates are looking to reverse this trend by connecting sports, an area in which African American men are overrepresented, and medicine, where the opposite is true. As of 2018, 13 percent of the U.S. population, but just 5 percent of doctors—according to the Association of American Medical Colleges—identified as Black or African American. (The AAMC data notes that an additional 1 percent of doctors identified as multiracial.) Decades of efforts to increase diversity at medical schools have made progress with other demographics, including Black women—but barely any with Black men. “No other demographic group is broken down with such a large split between men and women,” says Jo Wiederhorn, president and CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York. “And none of them have stayed stagnant, like that group has.”

According to data the AAMC provided to Undark, the proportion of Black men enrolling in medical school hasn’t changed much since 1978—with only some headway being made in the past few years.

The absence of Black male medical professionals ripples across the health system, experts say, contributing to widespread health disparities. African Americans tend to be diagnosed later than White people with everything from cancer to kidney disease, leading to more advanced disease and earlier deaths. Meanwhile, a recent study suggests that Black men who see Black male doctors may be more likely to follow medical advice. Other research also suggests that racially concordant care, in which patients and doctors have a shared identity, is associated with better communication and a greater likelihood to use health services.

“We are in a crisis point, nationally,” says Reginald Miller, the dean for research operations and infrastructure at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that the health of communities of color are directly proportional to the number of practitioners available to see,” he says. “It’s just that straightforward.”

Last year, the National Medical Association, a professional organization representing African American physicians, embarked with the AAMC on a joint effort to address the structural barriers to advancement for Black men. “We need to look at this with a unique lens,” says Norma Poll-Hunter, senior director of workforce diversity at the AAMC.

There is no single solution to such an entrenched and multifaceted problem, Poll-Hunter says. According to her, some medical schools have adopted a holistic admissions process that evaluates many personal factors rather than relying on standardized test scores, which can exclude promising Black candidates. In addition, she says, students of color need better access to high-quality K-12 science education, particularly in under-resourced public schools. “There are a lot of barriers that exist early on,” she notes, “and that then creates this narrowing of the pathway to medicine.”

“There are a lot of barriers that exist early on, and that then creates this narrowing of the pathway to medicine.”

But the novel strategy of wooing athletes is slowly gaining traction. Advocates point out that high-performing athletes possess many of the skills and attributes that doctors, psychologists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals need—things like focus, a commitment to excellence, time management, and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to take constructive criticism and perform under pressure.

“When you say, ‘What’s your ideal medical student?’ it’s not just a kid who’s academically gifted. It’s a kid who’s got resilience, attention to detail, knows how to work on the team,” Miller says. “Because science and medicine are team sports.” And by virtue of being athletes, these young men are already attuned to nutrition, fitness, and other aspects of human biology.

 

Two former NFL players, Nate Hughes and Myron Rolle, recently became physicians. And there is evidence that competitive sports experience contributes to medical success. A 2012 study of doctors training to become ear, nose, and throat specialists at Washington University, for example, found that having excelled in a team sport was more predictive of how faculty rated their quality as a clinician than strong letters of recommendation or having attended a highly-ranked medical school. Likewise, a 2011 study found that having an elite skill, such as high-achieving athletics, was more predictive of completing a general surgery residency than medical school grades.

Advocates of the athletics-to-medicine pipeline point out its practicality. Thousands of Black men are already in college, or headed there, on athletic scholarships. It would only take a small percentage of them choosing medical careers to boost the percentage of Black male doctors to better reflect the proportion of African American men in the general population, they say.

No one thinks it will be easy. One obstacle, advocates say, is a lack of role models. Black sports celebrities are household names, but some young athletes may never encounter a Black medical professional. “People don’t believe they can become what they don’t see,” says Mark R. Brown, the athletic director at Pace University.

And for the best chance of success, many say, these young men need to form and pursue medical aspirations as young as possible, along with their athletic training. “Those kids who are able to do both, the rewards at the end are enormous,” Miller says. But the adults in their lives may not believe the dual path is possible. “The second that a kid says to a science teacher or someone else that he’s an athlete,” Miller says, “they go into a different category. ‘They’re not really serious about science and medicine, they’re just here, and so I don’t expect this kid to really achieve.’”

Rigid course and practice schedules also make it challenging for busy athletes to undertake demanding and time-intensive science majors, observers say. What’s needed is “a cultural change, and not just a cultural change with the athletes. It’s a cultural change with the whole structure,” Miller says. “Everybody’s excited about the idea” of the physician athlete, he adds, “because it makes sense. But when the rubber hits the road, it is challenging.”

Donovan Roy, the assistant dean for diversity and inclusiveness at Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine at Western Michigan University, was one of the first people to envision the potential of directing Black athletes toward medical careers.

Roy, 48, who is Black and a former college football player, grew up in the working class, primarily Black and Latino community of Inglewood, California. Attending an elite private high school on a football scholarship was eye-opening. He vividly remembers the first time he ever saw a walk-in pantry, at a friend’s home. “It was stocked like a convenience store,” he recalls. “Five different types of Hostess, Ding-Dongs, sodas, every type of snack that you ever wanted.” Equally startling was speaking with another friend’s mother, who was a lawyer. “I’d never seen a road map to success in my community,” he says.

Roy’s athletic talent continued to open doors—at 18 he got a scholarship to the University of Southern California—but poorly prepared by the under-resourced public schools he had attended through ninth grade, he struggled academically, and left both USC and later another university that he also attended on an athletic scholarship.

Eventually Roy found his footing, and when he did, he became a learning specialist. After working through his own academic struggles, he wanted to help others with theirs. Roy took a job as a learning skills counselor at UCLA’s medical school. There he helped the students who were struggling with classes like anatomy and genetics. In early 2015, he returned to USC as the director of academic support services at Keck School of Medicine.

As a med school counselor, Roy noticed that athletes, many of them Black or Latino, “they always talked about, ‘How can I excel? How can I get better?’”

Something Roy noticed at both these medical schools stuck with him, though it would take a few years for the observation to crystallize. A certain kind of student sought help despite, by ordinary standards, not needing it. These were the athletes, and many of them were Black or Latino. “They always talked about, ‘How can I excel? How can I get better?’” he recalls. They “were getting 90s and they wanted to be 100.”

Roy began a doctoral program in education in 2015, the same year the AAMC published a damning report about the lack of Black men entering medical school. This was a crisis Roy understood both personally and professionally. For his dissertation, he decided to interview 16 Black male students at Keck School of Medicine. What was it about them, he wanted to understand, that had gotten them there against all odds?

The answer, he discovered, was what academics call social capital. For medical students from privileged backgrounds, social capital might take the form of a family friend who arranges a summer internship at a biotechnology lab, or a well-funded high school that offers advanced placement science classes. The young men Roy interviewed did not, for the most part, have access to those sorts of resources.

“Growing up, I didn’t see a Black male with a college degree until I got to college,” medical student Jai Kemp said in a separate interview Roy conducted for a documentary he’s making on the topic. The social capital these young men leveraged to get to medical school took the form of parental support, science enrichment programs and clubs, peer social networks, faculty mentors—and the perks that come with athletics. “For me it was just sports that got me through,” Kemp said.

The pieces started to fit together. Roy knew from his own experience all the benefits athletes get, not just entrée to educational institutions, but travel, enrichment, and academic advantages like tutoring and early class registration. Athletes also tend to possess social cachet on campus and, with more exposure to different types of people, may feel comfortable in environments that seem foreign and forbidding to other young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Roy also recalled the drive for academic excellence he had observed in the athletes who came to his tutoring programs. “I got this epiphany,” he says. “Why don’t we look at student athletes in order to increase Black males’ representation in medicine, because they have the most social capital and the most network on predominantly White campuses.”

“I think people tend to lump athletes into this box. They just think that athletes are big meatheads.”

But when Roy began talking to his medical school colleagues about recruiting athletes, who according to a report from the Center for American Progress—a liberal think tank—make up 16 percent of Black male college students receiving athletic aid in the Big 12 athletic conference, he says most weren’t receptive to the idea. The same thing happened when he got up the nerve to make the suggestion publicly at a 2018 conference in Orlando, Florida. The idea ran against type. “I think people tend to lump athletes into this box,” he says. “They just think that athletes are big meatheads.”

Roy knew this truth viscerally, because with his offensive lineman’s build of 6-feet-6-inches and 300-plus pounds, he sticks out in academic settings. “People stare,” he says. “They do not expect me to be in the role that I am in.”

What Roy didn’t know was that the idea was percolating elsewhere, including at the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, says he and Poll-Hunter of the AAMC are in talks with several universities about launching a pilot program to support African American athletes interested in medical careers.

Meanwhile, in 2018 Miller founded the organization Scholar-Athletes with Academic Goals (a.k.a. SWAG, a name he hopes will resonate with young people). The initiative connects promising athletes with a range of available programs to help them pursue and succeed in science and medicine. Recently, Miller worked closely with leadership at Pace University to create a program, expected to launch next year, to support Black college athletes interested in attending medical school. Pace officials want the initiative to become a magnet for out-of-state athletes and a model for other schools. “My hope is that two years from now, colleges and universities will call” and ask, “Wow, how did you do this?” says athletic director Brown. “Once we have some success, and proof of concept, then I think it can really grow.”

Bolds graduated medical school in 2018 and is now doing his residency at Mount Sinai. His focus is rehabilitation medicine, and he plans to tend to injured athletes and serve as a team physician. He got a business degree while in medical school, and his long-term goal is to open his own interventional spine and sports medicine practice specializing in preventing and rehabilitating injuries in both athletes and non-athletes, as well as helping serious players enhance their performance.

But there were tough moments along the way, such as the encounter with that academic adviser, which Bolds says only served to motivate him. At the time, he thought, “Wow, this person doesn’t believe in me. So let me make them a believer,” he recalls. “That was, moving forward, really a turning point for me, honestly. Because I knew that people aren’t going to believe in you unless you give them a reason to.”

“That same grind of having to get up, 5 a.m., get to the gym, get shots up before anybody gets there, to put in that extra time—I was doing that with my studies.”

Bolds began to apply an athletic mindset to his pre-med classes. “That same grind of having to get up, 5 a.m., get to the gym, get shots up before anybody gets there, to put in that extra time—I was doing that with my studies,” he says. “I would get to the library before anybody.” Once Bolds turned his grades around, professors began to notice and help him, he says. Still, he says, his score on the MCAT, an entrance exam required by nearly all U.S. medical schools, was borderline. Instead of giving up, he attended multiple events at Howard University’s medical school, where he met people who advocated for him. It was the only medical school he got into.

Whereas Bolds had to bushwhack, he saw other Black students fall off the medical path—and his fellow Black teammates avoided it entirely. Many athletes find themselves enmeshed in a profit-making system that may not prioritize their education. The NCAA has been criticized in recent years for its long-standing policy which prohibits profit-sharing with college athletes—a policy that was only recently reversed under interim guidelines. Others have said that Black labor has been especially exploited.

As of 2014 reports, fewer than 2 percent of athletes in the NCAA will go on to play professionally. But for self-serving reasons, critics say, (Clemson University’s football team, for example, made $77 million in average annual revenue from 2015 through 2017) universities often direct athletes to “academic paths of least resistance.” Many schools practice “major clustering,” in which players are steered to the same relatively undemanding major, such as communications, so they can devote themselves almost entirely to their sport. Major clustering is more pronounced among athletes of color, according to a 2009 study of football teams at 11 universities. At six of those schools, the study found, over three-quarters of the non-White football players were enrolled in just two academic majors, although dozens of majors were offered.

Sheron Mark, an associate professor of science education at the University of Louisville, co-authored a 2019 case study of two young Black men who arrived at college on basketball scholarships, with the intent to pursue respective careers in computer science and engineering. But both found it difficult to balance academics with athletics because of pressure and blandishments from coaches and faculty advisers.

“For so long, they’ve been sold this message that you don’t have many choices.”

“For so long, they’ve been sold this message that you don’t have many choices, that banking on a professional sports career is one of very few options for you if you want to advance your station in life,” says Mark of many Black athletes. It’s important to have a plan B, she says, since “the odds just aren’t in their favor.” But coaches can discourage academically demanding majors because they may cut into practice time, and college athletes are not always capable of pushing back, she says, because their financial packages are tied to fulfillment of their team responsibilities.

Many Black college athletes are already strong candidates for medical school, advocates say, but others may need extra academic support to compensate for deficits acquired at under-resourced K-12 schools. They may also need post-graduation training to take science classes they did not have time for while working long hours as athletes—with some working 20-plus hours a week. “How are they being mentored and guided and protected in planning for their futures?” Mark asks. “They are high achieving in sports, they want to be high achieving in academics. Why don’t we support them?” When people wonder whether student-athletes can cut it in science and medicine, Mark’s response is: “It’s on us. It’s on us to help them do so. That’s how we can grow their representation.”

That’s what Pace University intends to do. The school already nurtures academic success in its athletes, who collectively had a B+ average last school year, but premedical studies have never been a great fit, in part because afternoon practices can conflict with long lab classes, says athletic director Brown. As part of the school’s new initiative, Pace science departments have pledged to offer flexibility in course section offerings in order to accommodate football commitments. Athletes of color from any sport will be welcome, but football was prioritized because it is the largest and one of the most diverse teams and has the most complicated schedule, Brown says.

The school also plans to adjust its advising, tutoring, and library services to ensure that pre-med athletes won’t falter when they struggle with personal issues or tough classes like organic chemistry. “Rather than saying, ‘Oh, chemistry, nobody likes chemistry, you’re right, you should just drop that,’ instead now it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to buckle down. And here’s how we’re going to do it,’” says Hillary Knepper, the university’s associate provost for student success.

Meanwhile, Brown will be directing his coaches to actively recruit Black and Latino high school athletes who are interested in medicine. In the past, Brown says, his coaches were less likely to select such students because of anticipated scheduling challenges. But now Pace is trying to establish a partnership through which a nearby medical school would give preferred consideration to pre-med athletes who have completed the Pace curriculum. “With our new approach, you’re not only going to have the ability to do it,” he says, “but you’re going to have a support system, to make sure that you follow the path.”

Some advocates for the athlete-to-doctor paradigm see this work as part of the larger movement for social justice. “Look what Jackie Robinson did, right? Look at Muhammad Ali, look at Colin Kaepernick,” Roy says. “Athletics has always been the vehicle for social change.”

Medical professionals can influence public policy, accumulate wealth, and help empower others in their orbit. “The impacts ramp up really quickly, from just that individual benefiting,” Mark says, to “your family, your neighborhood, your social network, and society—people you won’t even meet, and across generations.”

To see someone “you can connect with that’s at that finish line…I think that’s very key to their success.”

Studies suggest that African American doctors are more likely to choose to work in underserved communities. They also may be more attuned to, and motivated to combat, the disparities in health care. A study published last year, for example, suggests that Black newborns are half as likely to die when they are cared for by a Black physician.

Bolds is keenly aware of the health disparities for Black communities, and he jumps at opportunities to mentor other young Black men, to show them that they, too, can become doctors. “It seems like there’s so many steps that just are never-ending,” he says. But, he adds, to see someone “that you can connect with that’s at that finish line or has already passed that finish line—I think that’s very key to their success.”

One of the people Bolds has connected with is Darius Ervin, a talented Black basketball player from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who is now a sophomore at Cornell University. The two met when Ervin attended a virtual event late last year, sponsored by SWAG, at which Bolds spoke. Afterwards, the two chatted, and Bolds now checks in periodically with Ervin, who says he appreciates the encouragement. “Those are people that have once laced up shoes and got on the court and played just like how I did, and now they’re in the hospital helping people,” he says. “Being able to speak to those people gives me the visual, allows me to see that it’s an opportunity and it’s definitely possible for me to do.”

The Dangerous Exaggeration of the Threat

Counterpunch Articles -

Threat perception is central to decision making regarding war and the use of force; alliance politics; and the role of deterrence.  Exaggerations of threat make war more likely and  weaken the ability of an alliance to function effectively and rationally.  Since the end of World War II, the United States has consistently exaggerated the threat, particularly with regard to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  Once again, the United States is embarking on a campaign of exaggerated threat perception as politicians and pundits exaggerate the “threat” of a so-called “resurgent” Russia and a so-called “aggressive” China. More

The post The Dangerous Exaggeration of the Threat appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

History’s Light on the Dark Road Ahead

Counterpunch Articles -

During the days of the U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan, I have been inching through the U.S. Army’s own massive history of The U.S. Army in the Iraq War: a wide window on the ignorance and arrogance that has led the U.S. into one bloody quagmire after another. Based on hundreds of documents and interviews, the two-volume history starts off with long mea culpa—an acknowledgment of the naiveté that led the U.S. into a chaotic and bloody occupation of the land where human civilization began. More

The post History’s Light on the Dark Road Ahead appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Why Stop at Roe?

Counterpunch Articles -

Donald Trump will likely go down in U.S. history as one of the worst, if not most corrupt, presidents.  Sadly, his reactionary legacy will live on much, much longer than his one term in office.  His three Supreme Court appointments – Neil Gorsuch (2017), Brett Kavanaugh (2018) and Amy Coney Barrett (2020) – have joined with the Court’s two arch conservatives -- Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – and one moderate -- John Roberts – to forge the most conservative Court since the 1930s. More

The post Why Stop at Roe? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

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