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Importance
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New Zealand Deputy PM Humiliates U.S. COVID Denier: ‘He Obviously Got an Education in America’
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 13, 2020
“To be fair, it’s probably easier to be a COVID-19 denier in New Zealand than in the United States. The island country has effectively eliminated the virus, twice, and life is now carrying on largely as normal.However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to be absolutely torn to pieces if you start spouting virus conspiracy theories in public there. Sadly for one man, conspicuous by his American accent, that is exactly what happened at a campaign rally in the city of Tauranga this week.The COVID denier piped up at a campaign event led by Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, and deputy prime minister in the coalition with prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party. Ardern’s government has been glowingly praised around the world for its decisive pandemic response which has seen New Zealand record one of the lowest death tolls from the virus on the planet, at only 25 people.The man, who wasn’t named in a news report about the incident from TVNZ, can be heard on video doubting that the virus exists. “Where’s your evidence that there is a virus that causes the disease?” the man asked, apparently holding something he’d printed out from the internet.The denier had already annoyed Peters by trying to ask more than his one allotted question, so the lawmaker didn’t hold back in his response to the man. “Sit down, sit down,” said the deputy prime minister. “We’ve got someone who obviously got an education in America—220,000 people have died in the U.S., there are eight million cases to date.”Peters added: “We’ve got 79,000 cases just today, probably in India, and here is someone who gets up and says ‘the Earth is flat.’” The deputy PM then witheringly told the man: “Sorry, sunshine, wrong place.”Inevitably, the man didn’t realize that he’d been resoundingly humiliated in public and tried to respond to what Peters had said, but he was told: “Quiet, we have manners at our meetings as well.”Last week, New Zealand moved to lift the last of its virus restrictions after going 10 days with no new cases in Auckland, which had experienced a small cluster. Unrestricted gatherings are allowed throughout the nation, and there’s no physical distancing rules in bars and restaurants.To date, New Zealand has recorded 1,800 positive tests and 25 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S., meanwhile, has tallied over 7,800,000 cases and 215,000 deaths.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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A new fellowship to explore White House’s history of slavery
by Local Education
Oct 13, 2020
“White House Historical Association partners with American University for researcher role.”
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The Crowded, Competitive World of Anti-Trump GOP Groups
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 12, 2020
“WASHINGTON -- Last month, Greg Schott, a lifelong Republican disgusted by President Donald Trump, decided it was time to speak out in a meaningful way.Schott, who sold his business software company to Salesforce in 2018 for a reported $6.5 billion, decided to spend $1 million of his own money to start a new group, Reclaim Our Party, a super PAC targeting right-leaning independents and soft Republicans and telling them it was OK to vote against Trump.Schott is entering an increasingly crowded space.The two biggest groups that dominate the anti-Trump Republican landscape, the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, have both become multimillion-dollar operations that conduct their own sophisticated data research and polling.Then there's the Bravery Project, led by Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois; Stand Up Republic, which recently introduced a spinoff, Christians Against Trumpism & Political Extremism; the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, known as REPAIR and led by two former top Trump administration officials; and 43 Alumni for Joe Biden, which consists of alumni from President George W. Bush's administration.And don't forget about the short-lived Right Side PAC, founded by Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, and Matthew Borges, a former chairperson of the Ohio Republican Party. The group formed in June with the mission of turning out Republican voters for Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, in battleground states, but it shut down after Borges was arrested on federal corruption charges. Scaramucci has since given the money to the Lincoln Project and teamed up with REPAIR.The crowded, competitive space of party-less anti-Trump Republicans is, in some ways, a product of the fact that not having a party means not having any clear leader. Groups with similar missions engage in little coordination or sharing of resources.The groups' leaders say this is all fine, and organic. Schott's competitors in the conservative anti-Trump space say there is little downside to another player spending $1 million on advertising critical of the president.But what is less clear is whether more coordination among the anti-Trump Republicans -- who harbor deep worries about what would happen to the country if Trump were reelected, and are eager to be seen as having been on the right side of history if Biden wins -- would better serve the collective project to unseat the president."The Never Trump movement is having a moment," said Lucy Caldwell, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser for Walsh's failed Republican primary challenge to Trump this year. "But on the whole, the last four years have been a lot of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks, and a lot of head chefs in the kitchen."Caldwell said a lack of coordination had meant "a lot of duplicative efforts in areas like digital, paid and earned media, with virtually no significant or coordinated effort in areas like field, or building a killer data set that everyone is making use of and enhancing."The fact that the groups operate as islands of resistance is, perhaps, underscored best by the setup of the Lincoln Project, where almost the entire staff has spent the pandemic in a COVID-tested pod in Park City, Utah, that some refer to as "Mountain West," where employees work and live together.Steve Schmidt, a founder of the Lincoln Project, said some of the smaller political action committees might seem like "vanity exercises." But the groups, he said, "are all disaggregated, they're all organic, and they're all conviction-based and necessary to show defiance and opposition to a president and political class that's completely enabled him."Sarah Longwell, a founder of Republican Voters Against Trump, said the diversity of the groups helped create a broader narrative about opposition to the president."People want to be counted, people want to be on the record saying they, in this moment, stood up against Trump," she said. "That's why you see this. It's a discredit to Trump that there are so many groups."The various anti-Trump Republican groups have also, at times, been in competition for the people who can bring the most attention to the cause. Scaramucci at one point wanted to start a PAC with George Conway, a prominent conservative lawyer who has become an outspoken and popular Trump critic. Conway, who had also worked closely with Longwell on setting up another anti-Trump group he started called Checks and Balances, ended up joining the Lincoln Project instead.The result is a disparate landscape of groups doing complementary, but sometimes overlapping, work in trying to peel away Trump voters. People in the movement said this was partly because the groups have slightly different goals.Republican Voters Against Trump has focused on testimonials from former Trump supporters explaining why they're reluctantly voting for Biden in November, with the aim of creating a permission structure for white, college-educated Republican voters in the suburbs to follow suit.The Lincoln Project's buzziest ads are designed for the proverbial "audience of one" -- Trump -- and aim to play on the president's own preoccupations. For instance, Rick Wilson, a founder of the Lincoln Project, claims partial credit for the president's decision in July to demote his longtime campaign manager, Brad Parscale, after the group ran an ad highlighting his lavish lifestyle."He was a fairly immovable force in the campaign until we started beating the drum that he was driving a Ferrari and Land Rovers and he bought a $2.5 million house," Wilson said.Schmidt said the goal of the ads -- the group has spent or reserved $16.9 million of television time this year, according to campaign finance records -- boiled down to buying time for Biden by making the president waste news cycles defending himself, or worrying about the intentions and the loyalty of the people he surrounds himself with.The Lincoln Project ads have been dismissed by some as "anti-Trump porn," more concerned with going viral than moving voters. And the group has drawn criticism from other Republican critics of Trump for targeting lawmakers in the party who have supported him.After Schmidt on Twitter compared Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to "the type of man who would have gladly held Castro's coat if it helped him rise, just a little," another conservative anti-Trump writer, Matt Lewis, accused Schmidt of acting "just as bad as Trump" and sounding "just like him."But the group's founders said they had also recently spent more money on an initiative targeting Puerto Rican voters in Florida, and planned to spend millions targeting Black male voters in Philadelphia, a bloc that Biden needs to turn out for him.Caldwell said some of the tensions within the coalition stemmed from its players' having different hopes for the future of the party, "a reality that will probably be much more obvious when they find their next acts, postelection."The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has continued with its own outreach to Republicans. The campaign introduced "Republicans for Biden" during the Republican National Convention, and has featured Republican voters in its own ads. The campaign's national security, political, surrogate, paid media and field teams are all doing dedicated outreach to soft Republican and independent voters, an official said.Despite all of the options, Schott still decided to start his own group rather than join forces with anyone else."To me, it's just having another voice," he said. "It's saying, 'Here's yet another group of Republicans that are saying it's OK to vote against Donald Trump.' More voices saying it is better."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company”
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Americans need a better way to evaluate the President's health
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Oct 11, 2020
“In early March 2001, I sat in the Coronary Care Unit of the George Washington University Hospital with the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney. One day earlier, he had undergone his second procedure in four months to clear a coronary artery obstruction. As we spoke, Tim Russert appeared on the "Today" show and suggested that, for medical reasons, Cheney should consider stepping down.”
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Why the Electoral College has long been controversial
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Oct 11, 2020
“The Electoral College will again determine who'll become President this year, as it has for more than two centuries of confusion. And Americans will once again ask themselves how the system has outlived generations of controversies.”
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Princeton Dropping Woodrow Wilson and Renaming a College After Black Alumna
by NYT > Education
Oct 10, 2020
“It will be named after Mellody Hobson and built where a college once bore Woodrow Wilson’s name. Princeton in June said the former president was a racist who segregated the Civil Service.”
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The First Semester of College Has Never Been Stranger
by NYT > Education
Oct 10, 2020
“The pandemic has made it harder to meet people. Classes and clubs have moved online. Students often eat alone. But they’re making the most of it.”
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'It instilled such problems': ex-member of Amy Coney Barrett's faith group speaks out
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 10, 2020
“Former insiders and religious scholars say scrutiny of Barrett’s connection to People of Praise is entirely legitimateRebekah Powers was 11 when members of her faith group, the People of Praise, gathered around as she sat on a chair and laid their hands on her to pray. Powers’ sister had shown a gift for speaking in tongues, a defining trait of the followers of the small charismatic Christian community, and Rebekah was expected to do the same.But after what seemed like an eternity, she proved unable to produce a sound.“I couldn’t get it, and I stayed there an hour and a half before they gave up and finally said, ‘You just have blockage. You need to just work on your sin and be more open,” she said.The 41-year-old had a rebellious spirit and left People of Praise when she turned 18. It has taken decades of therapy and hard work to overcome the intense feelings of shame and fear of damnation that she said marked her childhood. The Christian faith group, based in South Bend, Indiana, dominated every aspect of her early life, she said.Next week, Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appellate court judge who is a prominent member of the 1,700-member strong People of Praise, will sit before the Senate judiciary committee to face questions about her judicial philosophy as part of her controversial confirmation to take a seat on the supreme court. A successful appointment, replacing the liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, will cement a conservative dominance on the powerful body.Democrats have already stated that neither Barrett’s Catholic faith nor her membership in the People of Praise – which has never publicly been discussed or disclosed, but has been examined in press reports – will be raised in their questioning of the nominee.Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader who is seeking to confirm Barrett before the end of October, has nevertheless said that media reports and some remarks by senators about a newly discovered public statement by Barrett in opposition to Roe v Wade, were “disgusting attacks” on faith. He said they risked a return to the “tropes of the 1960s”, when it was feared by some anti-Catholic bigots that John F Kennedy would act in the interest of the pope instead of the US.“Our coastal elites are so disconnected from their own country that they treat religious Americans like strange animals in a menagerie,” McConnell said in a statement.But Powers, who is one of a handful of former People of Praise members who contacted the Guardian to describe their difficult experience in the group (using her married name), and some religious scholars who have studied charismatic Christian communities, say Barrett’s membership in this specific religious community does raise legitimate questions. They want to examine how views that are integral to the group’s core beliefs – from its treatment of women to the separation of church and state – might influence her. They are also distinct from most mainstream Catholic faith.In the bi-weekly and hours-long meetings that defined Powers’ childhood, intense prayer and discussions centered on obedience and driving out sin. Powers, who does not know Barrett, frequently witnessed people speaking in tongues and frenzied calls for evil spirits to be expelled, episodes that usually led to exorcisms.> The brainwashing and the groupthink, the female subjugation … it was so devaluing> > Rebekah PowersIn the strict hierarchy exercised by the group, Powers’ parents were often asked to take in other members into their home, even though her own family were using food stamps to get by. As a child and teenager, Powers’ father served as her spiritual “head” and worked multiple jobs, including being asked to tend to the lawns of the community’s properties, free of charge.Women who are married, like Barrett, count their husbands as their “heads”.“We were Catholic, but the Catholicism was on the side. Our life, all of our friends, all of the randoms who were living in our household, were the [People of Praise] community. It was God,” she said. “The brainwashing and the groupthink, the female subjugation of being there to serve and listen to your spiritual head. It was so devaluing. To me, it instilled such problems.”Powers’ experiences are in line with a handbook called The Spirit and Purpose of the People of Praise, which was obtained by the Guardian and confirms that people who seek to be members of the group are prayed with for the release of “charismatic gifts” – specifically, speaking in tongues and the gift of “prophecy”. It also states: “Obedience to authority and submission to headship are active responses to the gifts of God.”Although Barrett has not discussed the issue, there is evidence that the former Notre Dame law professor served as a trustee for a school affiliated with the group; lived in the home of a prominent co-founder when she was in law school; and announced the birth of her children in People of Praise’s magazine, which has removed references to Barrett and her family since she joined the federal bench in 2017.The Washington Post reported this week that Barrett served as a “handmaid” as late as 2010, a leadership position for women in the community, according to a directory.Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, who has served in a leadership position in the People of Praise, described his own decision to join the group in a 2018 testimonial at his Catholic church, describing how he had initially unwillingly attended a charismatic seminar as a young man. “When prayed with for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, nothing happened. Then later that night I began to speak in tongues. More importantly, I was filled with an insatiable appetite for reading scripture and spiritual books,” he wrote.Thomas Csordas, an anthropology professor at the University of California San Diego who has studied the issues around communities like People of Praise, said it was wrong to focus attention on whether the group could be a considered a “cult” in the spirit of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple. It was much more appropriate, he said, to examine what he called the “intentional community” of People of Praise and its nature of being “conservative, authoritarian, hierarchical, and patriarchal”.“I think they’re potentially more dangerous and much more sophisticated [than a cult],” he said. “It is not the kind of group where submission of women to men means that they have to stay barefoot and pregnant. Instead, they have to be lawyers and judges and submissive to men at the same time. They have to be able to have a career and seven kids at the same time.”Far from taking her cues from the People of Praise, Csordas said, Barrett’s biography showed she was not a “mindless devotee” of a cult, but rather part of the elite of the intentional charismatic covenant community, reflecting her previous status as a handmaiden and trustee of the school, and her father’s leadership role.“Contrary to a situation in which people might worry she might be told what to think or told by her husband. Being that far into the community means, no, she is going to be teaching other people.” She already “knows” what to think because of the patriarchal structure she was raised in, which mirrors conservative Catholic views and the views of her judicial mentor, Antonin Scalia.Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University, said that even if senators declined to question Barrett about her faith, the issues deserved to be aired in other forums because groups like People of Praise, he said, does reject a secular view of separation between church and state.“I don’t think we should put her Catholicism on trial, but the Catholic conservative legal movement is putting liberalism on trial. They want to change a certain understanding of the liberal order of individual rights, and that is coming from the religious worldview of Catholic groups,” he said.“Maybe not in the Senate, but in the public square.”A spokesman for People of Praise has said it would be inappropriate to discuss Barrett. He has also said the organization is an ecumenical community that strives to allow men and women with a “wide variety of political and religious views” to live together in harmony.”
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Scientist Accused of Hiding Chinese Funds Sues Harvard, Saying It Abandoned Him
by NYT > Education
Oct 09, 2020
“Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard’s chemistry department, claimed in the lawsuit that the university turned its back on a “dedicated faculty member.””
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William Danforth, Who Led Washington University, Dies at 94
by NYT > Education
Oct 09, 2020
“Under Dr. Danforth, the St. Louis campus was transformed from a commuter school into a world-renowned institution.”
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Strapped for students, colleges finally begin to clear transfer logjam
by Local Education
Oct 09, 2020
“Recruiting transfer students also is a strategy for some colleges to increase their diversity.”
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British Dorms on Lockdown After Coronavirus Outbreaks
by NYT > Education
Oct 07, 2020
“University quarantines are even tougher across the pond.”
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Michigan Dems Brace for Disaster After Court Blocks Guv’s COVID Restrictions
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 07, 2020
“Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is still reeling from the state’s highest court dismantling the authority she has used to fight the public health pandemic as the future of the state’s coronavirus response spirals into confusion.In a 4-3 decision released Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court found that a key law relied on by the governor during the pandemic “is in violation of the Constitution,” according to the ruling, because it allowed the governor undue legislative power.The move was a devastating political and policy setback for one of the leading Democratic voices during the coronavirus pandemic as the partisan fight over state restrictions continues to play out across the country.“This is in my opinion a disaster that the Supreme Court ruled in this way,” said Rep. Yousef Rabhi, the House Democratic floor leader. “I would say that this is comparable to a dog chasing a car, and now that the Republicans have caught the car, they don't know what to do it with it because this creates a ripple effect throughout both public health and economic issues.”But it was welcome news for Republicans who have long been critical of Whitmer’s approach as the months passed by during the pandemic. GOP leaders who control the state House and Senate had also earlier sued Whitmer over her use of emergency executive authority in a separate case from the state Supreme Court decision, according to a May press release from the Senate majority leader’s office.In an interview with The Daily Beast, House Majority floor leader Triston Cole said his “constituents have felt that their voice was shut out from the process because of the governor using exclusively executive orders.”“At this point in time it's important that we try our best to get Michigan back to normal economically and get our businesses functioning that have been forcibly put out of business by now what is deemed an unconstitutional action by the governor,” Cole said.As of Monday, Michigan has more than 128,900 confirmed cases during the pandemic, according to state health data, with 6,816 deaths as a result. In another portion of the decision, the high court was unanimous that Whitmer lacked the authority to continue the state of emergency after April 30 on her own by using a different emergency act, according to the ruling.The ruling will create a “significant change” on the state’s coronavirus response, said Meryl Chertoff, executive director of the Georgetown Project on State and Local Government Policy and Law.“It's going to impede (Whitmer’s) ability to efficiently manage the crisis because it’s going to eliminate the flexibility inherent in executive management,” Chertoff said.The emergency authority used by governors in an effort to keep the public safe has been a fraught political issue during the pandemic. Democratic governors across the country have faced criticism and legislative and legal challenges from Republicans in their states to the moves as the attempts have tried to undercut the elected leaders stricter responses and public health measures.But the implications in Michigan are especially intense, given its standing as a critical swing state that has been fertile ground for political fights as the pandemic has raged on and anti-restriction protests have provided troubling scenes on the statehouse grounds.And with roughly a month to go before election day, the dynamics have only grown more complicated with the decision from the state’s high court.“Accordingly, the executive orders issued by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now lack any basis under Michigan law,” the majority opinion issued Friday said.Michigan Gov. Whitmer Extends State of Emergency Another MonthThe governor slammed the ruling following its release Friday, saying in a statement the decision from “a narrow majority of Republican justices, is deeply disappointing, and I vehemently disagree with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution.”While the setback for Whitmer is among the more notable examples of authority being rolled back during the pandemic, she hasn’t been alone.Other prominent examples include the legislative effort already underway in Louisiana by Republicans to cut into the Democratic governor's emergency powers. And in Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration response to the pandemic was struck a major blow back in May when the state supreme court tore down the state’s safer at home order.Like many Democratic governors, Whitmer has embraced statewide restrictions during the pandemic including a mask mandate. But in the aftermath of Friday’s ruling, Whitmer said in the statement she believed she had “at least 21 days,” before the ruling formally gutted the authority she’s been relying on as the pandemic has played out.By Sunday, the office of the state’s Democratic attorney general announced in a statement that she “will no longer enforce the Governor’s Executive Orders through criminal prosecution.”“However, her decision is not binding on other law enforcement agencies or state departments with independent enforcement authority,” a spokesperson for the attorney general said in the statement. “It’s her fervent hope that people continue to abide by the measures that Governor Whitmer put in place - like wearing face masks, adhering to social distancing requirements and staying home when sick - since they’ve proven effective at saving lives.”Whitmer’s administration filed court papers Monday in an attempt to make clear that the earlier opinion wouldn’t take effect “until 28 days after its issuance.”But the leading Republican in the House made clear hours soon after that he disagreed. According to The Detroit Free Press, GOP House Speaker Lee Chatfield told reporters the “opinion takes immediate effect,” and also made clear lawmakers will return to the legislature because of the situation.The uncertainty Monday only further added to the alarm in the state, with Whitmer’s office warning in a press release “if the ruling went into effect immediately, up to 830,000 Michigan workers and their families could lose crucial unemployment benefits.”“The Supreme Court has spoken, and while I vehemently disagree with their ruling, I’m ready to work across the aisle with Republicans in the legislature where we can find common ground to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy,” Whitmer said in a Monday statement.As a result of the ruling last Friday, Peter D. Jacobson, professor emeritus of health law and policy at the University of Michigan, said Monday morning he expected some of the governor’s orders to be transferred to the state’s public health code instead. But that isn’t without drawbacks and could lead to a “wave of litigation,” Jacobson said.By Monday afternoon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that he had formally put in place gathering restrictions and detailed mask requirements, according to the order.And Jacobson remains concerned that the ruling “reduces the accountability, responsibility and flexibility of the governor to take action to protect the public.” Though he had no illusions that the courts would allow the governor’s orders to extend on "in perpetuity,” the latest major action from the state’s high court still worried him“Instead of being able to rely on the governor’s executive authority, the state will need to rely on the governmental public health system to address the ravages of the pandemic,” Jacobson said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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A college student says a professor told her not to breastfeed her baby during online class
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Oct 07, 2020
“A California college student says she was told by her professor she could not breastfeed her baby during an online class, prompting an apology from the instructor after she raised concerns to the school.”
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California wildfires spawn first ‘gigafire’ in modern history
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 06, 2020
“August complex fire expanded beyond 1m acres, elevating it from a mere ‘megafire’ to a new classification: ‘gigafire’California’s extraordinary year of wildfires has spawned another new milestone – the first “gigafire”, a blaze spanning 1m acres, in modern history.On Monday, the August complex fire in northern California expanded beyond 1m acres, elevating it from a mere “megafire” to a new classification, “gigafire”, never used before in a contemporary setting in the state.At 1.03m acres, the fire is larger than the state of Rhode Island and is raging across seven counties, according to fire agency Cal Fire. An amalgamation of several fires caused when lightning struck dry forests in August, the vast conflagration has been burning for 50 days and is only half-contained.The August complex fire heads a list of huge fires that have chewed through 4m acres of California this year, a figure called “mind-boggling” by Cal Fire and double the previous annual record. Five of the six largest fires ever recorded in the state have occurred in 2020, resulting in several dozen deaths and thousands of lost buildings.There is little sign of California’s biggest ever fire season receding. The state endured a heatwave this summer, aiding the formation of enormous wildfires even without the seasonal winds that usually fan the blazes that have historically dotted the west coast.Vast, out-of-control fires are increasingly a feature in the US west due to the climate crisis, scientists say, with rising temperatures and prolonged drought causing vegetation and soils to lose moisture.This parched landscape makes larger fires far more likely. Big wildfires are three times more common across the west than in the 1970s, while the wildfire season is three months longer, according to an analysis by Climate Central.“We predicted last year that we were living with the chance of such an extreme event under our current climate,” said Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Don’t need a crystal ball.”The 2020 fire season has caused choking smoke to blanket the west coast and at times blot out the sun. But experts warn this year may soon seem mild by comparison as the world continues to heat up due to the release of greenhouse gases from human activity.“If you don’t like all of the climate disasters happening in 2020, I have some bad news for you about the rest of your life,” said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.Parts of California are expected to receive some relief this week, with temperatures in northern California dropping up to 15F by Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologists are forecasting some light to moderate showers that could aid in firefighting efforts in the north, but climate scientists warn that it likely won’t be a season-ending storm.“The temperatures will start dropping closer to seasonal normals, the relative humidity will slowly start climbing up and we’ll start to see lighter winds,” said Tom Bird, incident meteorologist on the Glass fire, which has devastated parts of wine country and continues to burn. Rain forecasted for this weekend would be a “temporary dip” in the fire weather, but, come next week, “we will warm up, dry up again”, Bird said. “By no means are we looking to end the fire season with this event.”> CA fire weather update: pattern change still looks likely for Fri-Sat, but models trending drier (as ensembles had suggested was possible). Still a good chance of light-mod showers from Bay Area northward. Will help w/fires & smoke, but will not be season-ending. CAwx CAfire pic.twitter.com/TAASIhj5OQ> > — Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) October 6, 2020Much of the Central Valley is still under an air quality alert because of wildfire smoke from the Creek fire, which has burned more than 326,000 acres, and the SQF Complex fire, which has burned nearly 159,000 acres in the Sierra National Forest.Northwest California, where the August Complex fire rages, had air quality “in the unhealthy to locally hazardous category” as well. Meanwhile, coastal swathes of the state woke up to dense fog on Tuesday, a confusing contrast to the smoke-filled haze that many got used to seeing during the peak of the wildfires.”
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Meet the Cuban YouTuber Hoping to Turn South Florida Into MAGA Country
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 06, 2020
“It’s five minutes before showtime when Alexander Otaola appears in the control room with a few pages of notes and a bag, carrying his pet monkey, Karma, slung over his shoulder.He has a brief meeting with his three producers, feeds Karma some milk from a pink sippy cup, and downs a shot of Cuban coffee – a much-needed, pre-show pick-me-up.In the studio, Otaola settles into a red swivel chair in front a yellow backdrop where for the next three hours – with no breaks to speak of – he’s all energy as he preaches, laughs, dances and sings about topics important and mundane; he highlights oppression on the island of Cuba, roasts Cuban celebrities, invites a handful of his sometimes-bashful online followers to sing.And over and over, he urges his audience to vote for President Donald J. Trump.“Señores, este Noviembre, votamos, todos, votamos, y votamos Republicano!”Otaola, 41, is a YouTube celebrity in Florida, the host of the Spanish-language variety show “Hola Ota-Ola!” which attracts tens of thousands of loyal viewers every evening.Tonight Otaola is dressed in a bright green T-shirt, blue rimmed glasses, white skinny jeans with torn knees, and an arm full of beaded bracelets.He’s loud, colorful, outrageous, which is to say he’s not your typical Republican activist.But in Hispanic-heavy South Florida, Otaola has become a key figure in the reinvigoration of the region’s Republicans, particularly the important Cuban bloc, which had been trending blue.Early last month, a raft of new polls showing Trump performing surprisingly well among Florida Hispanics sent Democrats and the media into a tizzy. “What do we do?” panicked Democrats wondered in a Politico headline. NBC News wanted to know why Trump’s supposed insults to the Latino community haven’t cost him supporters.If Trump carries Florida’s Hispanic voters in November, he’d be hard to beat in a state that has served as something of a king-maker in recent presidential elections.There’s no one, simple answer why Florida’s Hispanic voters seem to be trending toward Trump and Republicans. Talk to them, and in big brush strokes they note the leftward drift of the Democratic Party, the party’s seeming openness to self-described socialists, big city riots that seem remarkably similar to “actos de repudios” (acts of repudiation) in their native countries, the left’s seeming obsession with race and insistence on identifying all Hispanics as “people of color,” and the progressive imposition of the oft-despised “LatinX” identity on their culture.But some of them just really like Trump. They like his strongman act. And they particularly like the hard line he’s taken with Latin American dictatorships.Social media influencers like Otaola have seized on this and are using their reach to teach younger Cubans about the island’s real history, to highlight the misery and terror associated with communism and socialism, and to win converts to the conservative cause.“The objective of the show has always been to reach young Cubans who leave Cuba indoctrinated,” Otaola said in a written interview with National Review.Politico took notice last month, noting that Otaola is one person whom both Republicans and Democrats credit with helping Trump among South Florida Hispanics.Otaola’s role in winning Republican support from recent Cuban arrivals cannot be overstated, said Rey Anthony, 24, a Republican activist in Miami and third-generation Cuban American.“He is the movement,” Anthony said. “I don’t know how to explain it to you. He is the movement.”Shifting allegiancesIn the days after then-President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012, polls in Florida had a sobering message for the state’s Republicans: Obama nearly won the Cuban vote – a typically solid Republican bloc – and won handily among every other Hispanic group.“Obama is picking the Republican lock in Florida,” pollster Fernand Amandi told the Miami Herald at the time.Hillary Clinton continued making inroads into the Cuban vote in 2016.Polls showed younger Cuban-Americans and newer arrivals to the U.S. were less inclined to identify as Republicans simply because their parents did. And they were becoming increasingly comfortable with the Democratic Party, according to a recent deep-dive analysis of Florida’s Cuban vote by Equis Research, a Democratic Latino research firm.The analysis found that Cubans who’d arrived in Florida after 1993, during an economic crisis on the island, were the most pro-Obama and anti-Trump cohort of Cuban-American voters.But something strange has occurred since 2016. For some reason, almost all of the left’s gains with Cuban-American voters have been wiped out.Over the past few years, the Equis polling has shown a dramatic shift by that same post-93 cohort in the Republican direction. The sample sizes were small, so the extent of the swing isn’t perfectly clear, but “the trend is undeniable,” according to the analysis.The Republican drift became even more clear in early September when new polls showed strong support for Trump among Florida’s Hispanic population.An NBC News/Marist poll found Trump leading Democratic nominee Joe Biden 50% to 46%, while a Quinnipiac University poll showed Trump ahead 45% to 43%. And Trump was running even with Biden among Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County, the state’s most populous and solidly-Democratic community. Democrats were rattled.Political analysts noted that Trump isn’t likely to win in Miami-Dade County, but he doesn’t need to. Cutting into the Hispanic vote there would greatly increase his chances in Florida.“President Trump is going to lose in Miami-Dade County, OK. But what will matter is if you have 10,000 more Venezuelans and 30,000 more Colombians and maybe 40,000 more Nicaraguans who vote for Trump, because in the context of the state, that’s where the sum goes,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a Florida International University political science professor and pollster who studies American politics and its impact on Latin America.A Florida International University poll released just last week continued to show Trump with commanding leads over Biden among Cuban voters of all ages. And the poll showed that 76% of Cuban-Americans who arrived between 2010 and 2015 identify as Republicans.Gamarra’s polling has found that overall Hispanic enthusiasm for Biden is well below the enthusiasm Hispanics showed for Hillary Clinton in 2016, nationally and in Florida.He said Republican messaging that links Democrats to radical socialism “has worked very well.”“That is absolutely part of what explains the trend,” Gamarra said, though he mostly finds the arguments disingenuous.He also notes that Republicans have championed school choice, a key issue with many Hispanic voters, and social values that align with many religious Hispanics.And Trump’s regular trips to South Florida to meet with Hispanic leaders and court Hispanic voters have made Cuban-Americans in particular “believe that they have been absolutely respected by this president,” Gamarra said.Armando Ibarra, 35, president of the Miami Young Republicans, said the level of excitement about the election is palpable among Hispanic Republicans in South Florida, particularly among younger Hispanics. He said they don’t see Trump as the lesser of two evils.They approve of the sanctions Trump has placed on Venezuela and the hardline stance his administration has taken against that country’s socialist regime, which is behind a humanitarian crisis unparalleled in the region. And they approve of Trump putting new restrictions on travel and investment in Cuba, a stark contrast to Obama’s rapprochement policy, which offered an olive branch to the country’s communist leaders.“President Trump has stood with the people of Cuba and Venezuela and Nicaragua stronger than any president has in recent history,” Ibarra said.Polling showed Obama’s policy efforts toward Cuba were popular, even in the Cuban-American community, Gamarra said.Ibarra believes younger Cubans gave Obama’s policies a chance, but now they’re recoiling, worried that the efforts only served to prolong communist rule of the island.“And now we have people like Otaola who know how to speak to them, who get that audience,” Ibarra said. “They’re seeing these things, and being called to action.”Seeing things clearlyIt’s the night after the presidential debate, and Otaola has a lot of material to work with.He shows clips of Trump sparring with Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace. He cheers when Trump says he brought jobs back to the country.Menacing music plays in the background when Otaola talks about Democrats and Antifa.Otaola’s show is unscripted, a producer says. He’s working off his notes. His producers know which music to play and which graphics, photos and cartoons to add to the screen because “we’re connected,” one says – an almost psychic bond.Otaola is clearly happy with a Telemundo poll that showed two-thirds of the station’s viewers thought Trump won the debate. They show a cartoon of Trump literally spanking Biden.This turn toward Republicans and toward Trump is still relatively new to Otaola, who was born and raised in Cuba and moved to Miami in 2003 after winning a visa lottery.When he first got to the U.S., he was a registered Democrat, and voted for Obama and Clinton. But looking back, Otaola said, he had been indoctrinated by the Cuban government to support Democrats in the United States. When he got to the U.S., he said, “I couldn’t see things clearly.”“You arrive here and you keep thinking with the limitations that they imposed on you during your life on the island,” he said, describing growing up in Cuba as “living without dreams.”He said he began to evolve when he saw Democrats traveling to Cuba to learn about the country’s socialized health care system during the thaw in relations under Obama.Cuba’s health system, he said, “exploits its professionals and sells them around the world, under the cloak of ‘humanitarian aid.’ That is how they contaminate nations and penetrate democracies.”The 2018 election of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a card-carrying  member of the Democratic Socialists of America, was the final straw.“I decided to quit (the Democratic Party) live on the show,” Otaola said. “I became a Republican in front of everyone.”Otaola was still living in Cuba when he began working as an actor in radio novels and soap operas, he said. Once in Miami, he got into comedy and began working in local TV.He launched “Hola Ota-Ola!” in April 2017, and records the show from a small studio on the ground floor of an ocean-front Miami high rise.He uses celebrities, jokes and pop culture to attract viewers, he said, but he’s always been interested in politics. The point of the show has always been “to warn and help the awakening of Cuban-Americans,” so they can finish the fight of their elders and protect their adopted nation, he said.Otaola said it’s clear to him many other Cuban-Americans have made a similar political journey. “Cubans increasingly detest everything that smells like lefties,” he said.His shows, broadcast live but archived on YouTube, typically rack up over 100,000 views in a matter of days. And his audience appears to be loyal and committed.In March, the Miami Herald took notice when Otaola organized a large car caravan for his followers to support Trump and show their disdain for Cuba’s communist government.Otaola also has feuded with Cuban celebrities and musicians who travel between the island and the U.S., and don’t speak out about the Cuban government, according to the Herald.Otaola said he can’t see himself voting for Democrats again. The Democratic Party needs to reinvent itself if it doesn’t want to “lose everyone who loves freedom, security and growth,” he said, calling the political left a “breeding ground for the lazy, resentful and losers.”When asked if he sees himself as a new style of Republican, Otaola demurs.“I don’t know, I never propose to be different,” he said. “I simply am.”But he hopes more traditional Republicans will look at his results, which he calls “epic,” and begin to realize how the younger generations work and consume media.“Whoever implements it first will have an advantage,” he said.Standing up to dictatorsCuban-Americans aren’t the only bloc of Florida Hispanics trending toward Trump.About two-thirds of Venezuelan-Americans are planning to vote for Trump in November, according to a recent poll out of the University of North Florida.Venezuela has fallen into chaos under the leadership of dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, and Trump has levied severe and wide-ranging sanctions on the government.The Venezuelan-American population in Florida is small; only about 55,000 are eligible to vote.Lourdes Ubieta, 53, a Venezuelan-American journalist who fled her native country after the Chavez took power, identifies as a political independent. But she said she’s behind Trump “5,000%” because of his hardline foreign policy in Latin America.“People understand that after 20 years, the only president who has stood up firmly against the Venezuelan regime is Trump. Not Bush. Not Obama. It’s President Trump,” she said.Helen Aguirre Ferré, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida who is a Nicaraguan-American, said the party itself hasn’t made a specific push to win over Hispanic voters. “We want to increase the vote statewide,” she said, but added that they make note of issues that resonate specifically with the state’s Hispanic voters.“When it comes to foreign policy, there is no question about it that that’s an issue that is unique to Hispanic voters,” she said. “We look at what happens in Latin America almost like local news.”Miguel Arango, 25, and his brother Federico, 30, are Colombian-Americans and one-time Obama supporters who have become full-fledged Trump backers.They are the leaders of a nonpartisan music group, “Voices of Freedom,” which performs for veterans groups and at Honor Flight ceremonies. They also have an offshoot group, “Spirit of 76,” which performs at Republican rallies and campaign events, and have composed a song they hope will adopted as the theme of the Space Force.Miguel Arango was in middle school in 2008, and remembers waiting in line for eight hours with his Democratic family members who were voting for Obama. “It was electrifying,” he recalled.But over the last eight years, the brothers have evolved politically. They took to the internet to become educated about socialism in Latin America, and to take a closer look at Trump, finding that mainstream media claims of his alleged racism were overblown, they said.Like the young Cuban Republicans who flock to Otaola, the Arango brothers credit internet-savy new media voices like Steven Crowder and Ben Shapiro for inspiring their political switch.They said the Democratic Party is moving too far to the left, coalescing around policies espoused by open socialists like Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.Not all Hispanic groups are leaning red this year in Florida. Puerto Rican voters still overwhelmingly support Democrats, and their numbers are on the rise.Daniela Ferrera, 22, co-founder of the Democratic group “Cubanos con Biden,” hosted a pro-Biden car caravan on Wednesday outside Versailles Cuban restaurant, the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Several people passing by accused the group of being “socialistos,”an attack the members find frustrating and hear constantly.Ferrera, a former Republican, said calling Biden and Harris socialists is just a political tactic.Even though Biden has clearly swung to the left and said that if elected he would go down as “one of the most progressive presidents in American history,” to Ferrera he is still a moderate.“They’re trying to exploit the trauma of our community for votes,” she said. “They like to use the socialism, communism bogeyman when there’s nothing factual to back that up.”But Rey Anthony, the Cuban-American Republican activist, said the leftward tack of the Democratic Party is real and a legitimate concern in his community.He points to video of Obama doing the wave at a baseball game with Cuba’s then-President Raul Castro in 2016. He points to Sanders praising a Cuban literacy program. He points to the democratic socialists elected to Congress who’ve become Democratic Party celebrities.“The Democratic Party has been hijacked by the radical left,” he said. “That’s very worrisome to people in this community who’ve lived through socialism, understand the horrors of socialism, and don’t want this place of refuge to become another failed socialist experiment.””
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South Korean minister apologises after husband breaks Covid rules for yacht-shopping trip to US
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 06, 2020
“South Korea’s foreign minister is under growing pressure to resign after her husband defied the ministry’s travel advice and flew to the United States on Saturday. The public has been further enraged after it emerged that Lee Yill-Byung, a university professor and husband of Kang Kyung-wha, was travelling to the US to purchase a new yacht. Only essential overseas travel is permitted, at a time when many Koreans have lost their jobs due to the impact of coronavirus. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper accused Mrs Kang of “flagrant hypocrisy” after her ministry demanded that people skip this year’s Chuseok holidays, the equivalent of Thanksgiving and the most important holiday on the Korean calendar, to stop the spread of the Covid-19. Mrs Kang, of the Left-leaning Democratic Party, was quoted as saying that people’s “private lives are not an absolute right” as she ordered the public to stay at home. Local media have learned that her husband flew to Vietnam for a week in February, travelled to the French territory of Martinique shortly after returning and then went to Greece in June.”
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Who Actually Declares the Winner of This Election?
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 06, 2020
“By Amy Dacey, The ConversationWith the U.S. presidential election rapidly approaching at a time of extraordinary political and social disruption, the possibility of an unclear or contested result is coming under scrutiny.Unlike many other countries, where the president or prime minister is chosen by direct popular vote, in the U.S., a candidate may win the popular vote and still not be elected to the nation’s highest office. The U.S. also differs from most other democracies in that it has no independent electoral commission to certify the final vote count.So who actually confirms the winner? Step 1: Before Election DayAmerican democracy has many elected officials—state, local and national—and many processes for getting into office.I have been working on election campaigns since I was 8 years old, when my dad ran for school board and I went door to door asking people to vote for him. I’ve also worked on local, congressional, senate and presidential races and now direct an academic research center on politics.What’s striking is that every race is different, from deadlines and filing process to certification. Here, I’ll focus here on the presidential race.The unusual and complicated presidential election certification process in the U.S. entwines all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Senate, House of Representatives, the National Archives and the Office of the Federal Register. It also involves the Electoral College—a uniquely American institution that convenes in 51 separate locations once every four years to pick the president.This four-month process was custom designed as a compromise by the Founding Fathers, who did not believe the American people should directly choose the president and vice president but did not want to give Congress the power of selection, either.What if Trump Won’t Leave the White House?The Constitution declares that American presidential elections occur on the first Tuesday in November, every four years. But the federal election process actually begins in October, when the Archivist of the United States—a presidential appointee responsible for maintaining the government’s most important official documents—sends a letter to the governor of each state.The document outlines their responsibilities regarding the Electoral College, which is not a place but a process by which electors—people who are chosen by their party—vote for their party’s presidential candidate.The machinery of the Electoral College is complicated, but in short Americans vote for electors and the electors vote for the president. Then, the winner is  Step 2: After Election DayNot quite.Once a final tally of voters’ in-person, mail-in and provisional ballots has been concluded, all 50 governors prepare their state’s Certificate of Ascertainment, a document listing their electors for the competing candidates.Each state completes that process at its own rate. This year, because of the pandemic, finalizing the electoral vote count will likely take a lot longer. Once completed, copies of the Certificate of Ascertainment are then submitted to the U.S. Archivist.After the governor submits names to the Archivist, each state’s Electoral College electors meet in the state capital—D.C.‘s meet in D.C. —to formally cast their votes for president and vice president on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, that’s Dec. 14, 2020.In ways that vary state by state, each state’s electors then prepares six Certificates of Vote, which are sent by registered mail to the President of the U.S. Senate and the Archivist of the United States. The remaining four certificates are sent to state officials.That fulfills the Electoral College’s duties until the next presidential election. Step 3: Congress meetsOn Jan. 6, Congress convenes to count the electoral votes and certify the winner of the election.Because the sitting vice president also serves as president of the Senate, Mike Pence will preside over this count in 2021, just as Vice President Joe Biden did in January 2017 when Donald Trump officially became president-elect. Each state, called upon in alphabetical order, files its votes.This process is in some respects ceremonial, because by January the media has declared a winner and usually a concession speech has been given. But, officially, it is the moment of truth.The Time Has Come: Reform the Electoral College NowAt the end of the Senate’s electoral vote count, the vice president announces the results and asks if there are any objections. In 2001 Democratic House representatives tried for 20 minutes to block Florida’s highly contested electoral votes for George W. Bush.That effort failed, because objections must be signed by both a member of the House and the Senate before being voted on by both chambers of Congress. It fell to Vice President Al Gore, as president of the Senate, to declare Bush—his Republican opponent—the winner of the 2000 election.After the Senate certifies the election results, all the Certificates of Ascertainment and Certificates of Vote then become available for public review at the Office of the Federal Registrar for one year, then transferred to the National Archives for the permanent record. Those who question the outcome of a U.S. election, in other words, can actually double-check the tabulations themselves.In the extraordinary event that no candidate wins in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives meets to elect the next president. This is how John Quincy Adams became president in 1824.Established almost 250 years ago, this complex process is a foundation of American democracy. Many have questioned whether this antiquated system truly represents the will of the people in modern America.But for 2020, it remains the process that will decide the presidential race.Amy Dacey is executive director of the Sine Institute of Policy and Politics, American UniversityRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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More than 1,500 alums of Rhodes College sounded off against Amy Coney Barrett's nomination in a letter
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 05, 2020
“Barrett, President Donald Trump's pick to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1994.”
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Husband of South Korean Foreign Minister Breaks Her Rules—to Fly to America to Buy a Yacht
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 05, 2020
“It is one thing to flout a coronavirus travel ban to fly overseas for the purposes of buying a yacht.It’s altogether another matter to do so when your wife is the one who made the rules.South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, came under pressure to resign Monday after her husband defied her ministry’s advice against all but essential travel overseas and flew to the United States on Saturday to buy himself a new boat.Lee Yill-Byung, a university professor, has now become the focus of considerable outrage in Korea after he was confronted by a television crew as he prepared to fly to the U.S. on Saturday, saying, “The coronavirus epidemic is not going to disappear any time soon. I can’t sit at home all the time. I can’t keep worrying about other people’s lives as I live my own.”His mission, as described on his now-deleted blog, was to buy himself a small yacht and enjoy a “cruising life” and be able to say that he “lived in a beautiful place” for several years before he dies.The opposition People Power Party was quick to condemn Lee’s actions, with a party official telling the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, “Small businesses are suffering from the epidemic, but a family member of a high-ranking government official is traveling and buying a yacht.”The paper accused Kang of “flagrant hypocrisy” as her ministry, just days before, had ordered Koreans to stay home for this year’s Chuseok holiday, saying that people’s “private lives are not an absolute right.”Broadcaster KBS initially broke the news Saturday evening of Lee’s travel, screening astonishing footage of reporters at Incheon International Airport confronting a defiant Lee, who told the reporters that he had “packed many masks.”When asked if he was concerned about being the husband of a public figure and prominent lawmaker, Lee reportedly replied, “It could be a burden if I am doing something bad, but I am doing what I believe is right, and I am living my own life, so I don’t have to compromise on this because of what others think.” Lee was asked if Kang had spoken to him about the trip, and he replied, “We are both adults, so she didn’t particularly tell me not to go.”The following day, Kang told reporters that she was “sorry” about her husband’s decision to travel overseas, adding, “He has planned the trip for such a long time and postponed it several times, so it’s difficult for me to tell him not to go.”The Korea JoongAng Daily said that sailing the world on a yacht was at the top of a bucket list on Lee’s now-scrubbed blog, and that he has been planning the purchase for nearly a year. Lee reportedly was traveling to New York to purchase a 51-foot 1990 Kanter 51-foot Mistress V yacht, estimated to cost around $120,000.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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Photos Show Why Miami Public Schools Could Be the Next Ron DeSantis Coronavirus Debacle
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 05, 2020
“MIAMI—Last week, a few days before Donald Trump revealed he came down with COVID-19, Karla Hernandez-Mats went on a coronavirus safety fact-finding mission in South Florida schools ahead of their reopening on Monday.The president of United Teachers of Dade, the local teachers union, Hernandez-Mats said she and her colleagues conducted surprise inspection visits at 17 Miami-area schools that suggested administrators were still scrambling to put safety measures in place.At Miami Springs Senior High, one of the 17 schools inspected, administrators initially refused to allow her colleague, United Teachers of Dade First Vice-President Antonio White, to enter the building and called a police resource officer on him, the union officials told The Daily Beast.“When administrators act like that, their schools are usually not prepared,” White said in an interview. “That was the case at Miami Springs.”COVID-Skeptical Florida Guv Outdoes Himself, Lifts All Restrictions on Restaurants and BarsFor instance, the school appears to be supplying teachers with alcohol-free hand sanitizer, which may be ineffective in killing coronavirus, the union officials said, providing The Daily Beast with a photo of just that. (The Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidance recommends people use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent ethanol-based or 70 percent isopropanol-based.) Union officials also provided photos showing decals marking 6-foot distance requirements that were already peeling off the sidewalks near the school’s entrance, and desks arranged in such a way that does not allow for 6-foot social distancing.Reached by phone, Miami Springs principal Torossian said he was unaware of police being called on the union official and referred further questions to the school district’s media relations department. Spokeswoman Jacquelyn Calzadilla did not specifically address what had occurred at Miami Springs, but she said “our school site administrators are working around the clock to ensure a safe return to the schoolhouse for our students and employees.”The flap illustrates the daunting task facing the public school system in Miami-Dade County, which has been the epicenter of Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak for most of the pandemic. More than 10,000 teachers and 133,000 students begin filing into 340 schools this week on a staggered schedule. This after the Miami-Dade School Board voted to resume in-person learning under pressure from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Cocoran, a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee who threatened to cut the school district’s funding if classes did not resume by early October.Miami-Dade’s daily positivity rate rolling average for the 14 days ending on Oct. 4 stood at 4.78 percent, just below the 5 percent positivity rate that the World Health Organization recommends maintaining for two weeks before lifting shelter-at-home and social distancing protocols. During the same 14-day period, Miami-Dade reported 5,456 new cases, bringing its total to 172,205.School reopenings have been a mess of infection, quarantine, and closure across America in recent weeks. But conversations with teachers, labor leaders, and experts in South Florida painted a picture of Miami schools as a new guinea pig for epidemiological mayhem imposed on high from Tallahassee.This past Friday, Thais Alvarez returned to Norman S. Edelcup Sunny Isles Beach K-8 in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, for the first time since the pandemic forced the shutdown of school buildings across the country.Alvarez, 48, believes keeping students 6 feet apart is going to be nearly impossible in some cases, despite guidance that she and other staff do so. “While my classes are significantly smaller compared to other years, I have some with 16, 19, 21, and 22 students,” she told The Daily Beast. “There is no way to do traditional social distancing given the square footage of my classroom.”For her personal protection, Alvarez said, she received three six-packs of facemasks and a face shield from the principal’s office, along with a large bottle of hand sanitizer placed on her desk. To bolster the official offerings, some of her students gave her packages of clorox wipes in recent days to sanitize surfaces, added Alvarez, who teaches sixth, seventh and eighth graders.The teacher’s concerns over clean and sanitized classrooms and bathrooms have a history at Norman S. Edelcup going back to this spring. Alvarez provided The Daily Beast email exchanges she had with Assistant Principal Neal Stayton and Principal Melissa Mesa as far back as May describing grimy conditions inside her classroom and bathrooms on the fourth floor of the school. In a May 7 email, Alvarez complained that objects such as cabinets and desktop screens were caked in dust and floors went unswept throughout the school year. She also claimed the bathroom often ran out of soap and toilet paper before the school day ended, and that toilets were not cleaned for days.In email responses to Alvarez, Mesa acknowledged that custodial staff were supposed to clean bathrooms, including toilets, on a daily basis. But the principal explained that the school district only allocates one custodian per floor and that, based on the workload, the custodian assigned to Norman S. Edelcup’s fourth floor could only provide a full-service cleaning once a week. Mesa also noted that if the custodian missed work or went on vacation, it would take longer for full-service cleanings to take place.“Please communicate custodial concerns with Mr. Stayton and myself throughout the school year and we will do what we can to assist you,” Mesa wrote back on May 7. “Please know that the health and safety of all our faculty, staff and students is of paramount concern to us as well.”When she returned to campus on Friday, Alvarez claimed the bathrooms looked the same to her and that her classroom did not appear any cleaner than the start of previous school years, when floors are stripped and waxed.“I can’t speak to the future,” she added. “But if my past experience is any indication, it’s going to be a dog and pony show in front of the cameras. Behind the scenes, it’s going to be the complete opposite.”Alvarez’s bosses at Norman S. Edelcup referred inquiries to school district’s chief spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, who did not specifically answer questions about the middle-school teacher’s complaints.“Miami-Dade County Public Schools administrators and school site personnel are following all recommended health and safety protocols to ensure our schoolhouses are secure and welcoming environments where children can thrive under the instruction of our inspirational educators,” Gonzalez-Diego said in an email statement. “We also understand that beyond the academic benefits, in-person schooling provides children the social, emotional, and motivational support they need.”But on a Facebook page administered by school district employees, dozens of teachers are sharing similar stories about their schools. One teacher posted photos of her classroom’s moldy ceiling tile and moldy air conditioning vents. The Daily Beast obtained a screenshot of a text message from another teacher complaining that no one had provided her with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes. The teacher claimed to work at iPrep Academy, which is adjacent to the school district’s headquarters and whose principal is none other than Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.“The office made me feel uncomfortable as if I were asking for something difficult to get when I thought they had plenty in store,” the text message read.In an emailed statement, Miami-Dade Public Schools said all teachers at iPrep Academy received bags containing personal protective equipment. Gonzalez-Diego also explained that the school district prioritized resources to increase existing inventories of cleaning supplies and purchase large quantities of personal protective equipment, among other precautions. “With these investments, our schools are now equipped with sufficient PPE and sanitization supplies to safely welcome our students and employees back to the schoolhouse for the 2020-2021 school year,” Gonzalez-Diego said.Likewise, on Sept. 30, Superintendent Carvalho sent a letter to all school district employees that read: "Rest reassured that comprehensive measures have been undertaken and will continue to be implemented as a means of ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for all. There is an overall heightened awareness and adherence to prescribed cleaning practices in order to reduce the risk of exposure to our employees."Regardless of how well prepared it is, the school district has been forced to rush things because Carvalho and the school board caved to Education Commissioner Corocan’s threats, Hernandez-Mats, the union official, argued. Cocoran, a Republican former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, is a staunch ally of Gov. DeSantis and President Trump, who have advocated reopening schools as part of their push to resume normal life even as health experts across the country warn Florida is about to experience another surge once flu season kicks into high gear.Schools Touted by DeSantis Now in a Quarantine Nightmare"Obviously, this is very troubling how they are getting pressure from Gov. DeSantis, who is falling in line with Trump, telling him to reopen schools,” Hernandez-Mats said. “They are succumbing to political pressure instead of doing what is right to ensure the health and well-being of the students and the people who work in those schools with those kids."Gonzalez-Diego did not comment on Hernandez-Mats’ criticisms of local cooperation with pressure from the state level. But Florida education department spokeswoman Taryn Fenske clapped back, arguing school unions like United Teachers of Dade want to dictate the type of learning environment students should have, instead of giving them a choice between online and face-to-face learning. “The union bosses are nothing but schoolhouse bullies who want to force everyone to make an identical decision,” Fenske said. “They’re just mad that we have no problem or hesitation with standing up for students and families, regardless of what the union demands.” A spokesperson for DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment for this story.Florida International University infectious disease expert Mary Jo Trepka told The Daily Beast the sheer size of Miami-Dade’s public school system makes it critically important that every school site has every possible precaution in place.“It is not only critical that transmission be controlled within schools to protect students, teachers, and staff, but also because transmission within schools will fuel overall community transmission,” Trepka said. “This could happen at a large scale… Even if only half are interacting in person, that is a lot of opportunities for transmission.”Trepka said the danger of reopening schools in Miami-Dade was compounded by DeSantis’ decision earlier this month to allow bars and nightclubs to reopen throughout the state. She said it’s a recipe that could lead to another spike in coronavirus cases similar to what occurred during the summer, when local and state government officials first relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.“I fear we will repeat the same situation now with the added problem of colleges resuming classes and the reopening of schools,” Trepka said, noting that Florida’s summer surge was initially driven by young people catching coronavirus.“They ended up infecting older people,” Trepka said. “Then, of course, we saw a lot of deaths.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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Beyond ‘test-optional’: Some ‘test-free’ colleges drop the SAT and ACT entirely
by Local Education
Oct 04, 2020
“Even ultracompetitive California Institute of Technology won’t use scores for two years.”
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Lindsey Graham hammered by Democrat opponent who tells him to ‘be a man’ and likens him to a cheating child in election debate
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 03, 2020
“Near the end of a week in which he begged supporters to donate money to his campaign for a second time, embattled Senator Lindsey Graham took to the debate stage on Saturday to face his opponent in the race to represent South Carolina in the Senate. Senator Graham is tied with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison at 48 per cent each, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, in a race that has become unexpectedly competitive and could play a role in flipping control of the Senate. Mr Harrison has seen a surge in donations since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the incumbent Graham’s u-turn on his previous pledge to not fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.”
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George Washington University Hospital still recovering from cyberattack on its parent company
by Local Education
Oct 02, 2020
“The hospital’s majority owner said there’s no indication that patient data has been accessed.”
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Child car seat laws are acting as a form of contraception, study finds
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 02, 2020
“Car seat laws are acting as a form of contraception, a study has found, as women with two children are eight per cent less likely to have a third as they can't find enough space in the vehicle. The legal age at which a child must ride in a car seat has been increasing gradually in the USA since 1977. This means mothers are having to wait longer for their first two children to grow out of them before having a third child as most cars don't accommodate a third seat. While the legislation resulted in 57 children being saved from fatal crashes in 2017, it also led to 8,000 fewer births occurring that year, according to researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College. Third child fertility has been reduced by 7.8 per cent overall, their analysis estimated, with 145,000 fewer births in total since 1980. Prof Lauren Jones, from Ohio State University's department of human sciences, said the decline in third child fertility was an "unintended consequence" of trying to keep children safe in the event of a car accident. "Here we find a great example of a policy whose intended purpose – protecting children in car crashes –had a profound effect on a seemingly unrelated family decision – fertility," she told The Telegraph. "I am sure no legislator who passed a law to expand car seat requirements for older children suspected that these laws could diminish a family’s capacity to have a third child. However, the authors have nicely demonstrated that the laws – which in most of the US now require children as old as eight to be restrained in child seats – have diminished third-child birth rates by up to 10 per cent. "As a new mother who has recently tried to wrestle just one car seat into the back of my mid-sized car, I can attest to the fact that it would be nearly impossible to have three children in car seats without moving up to a much larger car. This could certainly discourage many families from having a third child." Professor Jones said the researchers' cost/benefit analysis shows that the number of third children which would be born if car seat laws weren't so strict would be far greater than the lives saved by car seats. "This confirms my own work showing that increasingly strict child safety seat laws save relatively few children from car crash fatalities each year – likely fewer than 100 per year across the US. This number is very small compared to births women would have had if not for the car seat requirements," she said. "Weighing the life-saving benefits of these laws against the costs of prevented births leaves us with what the authors call a “puzzle” – should policy weigh a life saved so much more heavily than a life prevented?" However, Professor Jones said injuries potentially prevented by car seat laws, in addition to lives saved by them, should be taken into account. "We do not yet have good estimates as to whether car seat laws have reduced child injury in crashes. If the laws do prevent injury, their benefits may be much larger than what this study considers," she said. Weighing the life of an existing child against that of a potential one is a minefield of "philosophical and religious complications" which are "beyond the paygrade of most economists", she added. To view the study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, click here.”
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US makes fresh pitch to Latin America in bid to counter China's influence
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Oct 02, 2020
“Experts say Growth in the Americas programme is attempt to reassert US control – and seems likely to anatagonise Beijing Growing tensions between the US and China have prompted clashes at the United Nations, accusations of spying and rumblings of a global trade war.In Latin America, the rivalry has recently prompted a public relations battle over which superpower could provide ventilators and PPE during the pandemic, outcry over a Chinese deepwater fishing fleet and renewed pressure over the adoption of Huawei technology in 5G networks.Now, the US seems intent on countering China’s growing commercial influence in the region, with a program challenging Beijing’s involvement in infrastructure developments and energy mega-projects.On a recent visit to Suriname and Guyana – which have both recently made major offshore oil discoveries – Mike Pompeo made a direct sales pitch on behalf of US companies.“No state-owned operation can beat the quality of the products and services of American private companies,” said the US secretary of state. “We’ve watched the Chinese communist party invest in countries, and it all seems great at the front end and then it all comes falling down when the political costs connected to that becomes clear.”Pompeo – the first secretary of state to visit either country – also used the opportunity to sign up both nations to the Growth in the Americas programme, more frequently referred to as America Crece, its Spanish translation, which seeks to “catalyze private-sector investment in Latin America and the Caribbean”.The project is seen as a direct response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the $1.5tn foreign and economic policy to establish maritime trade and invest in infrastructure projects in dozens of countries.Nineteen countries in the region have signed up to the BRI, with Chinese firms – many of them partly state-owned – winning major mining, energy and transport projects. Since 2005, China-based firms have invested over $123bn in the region and Chinese banks have loaned $137bn.“It’s clear that America Crece is a US response to the BRI; Pompeo has consistently criticized what he considers onerous conditions attached to Chinese infrastructure loans,” said Rob Soutar, managing editor of Diálogo Chino, a website specialising in China-Latin America relations.“Inside China, a number of academics see America Crece as the US attempt to reassert control over Latin America as its unique area of influence – a new version of the Monroe doctrine,” he said.In September 2018 the US recalled its top diplomats in Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic after the countries each ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established ties with China.But since then, US pressure appears to have increased, the growth of BRI partnerships has slowed, and Chinese investments in strategic countries such as Panama appear to have hit a speed bump.The America Crece program offers no new budget for regional infrastructure projects, but it does give the US policy a name and a direction.“The BRI wants to create infrastructure that supports Chinese interests – built by Chinese companies and with Chinese banks making money on the loans. America Crece, by contrast, involves projects with business cases that make sense for the region and support good governance,” said Dr Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute.But the view that Chinese investment relies solely on backroom deals with Beijing is no longer correct, said Soutar. “In recent years there’s been a major shift in the way Chinese firms invest in the region. Increasingly, they invest in equity or form international consortiums to win competitive tenders, such as the Bogota metro system.”> We advise Mr Pompeo to respect facts and truth and stop spreading rumors about China> > Chinese embassy in SurinameAnd while America Crece is theoretically open to investment from all countries, Colombian president Ivan Duque’s description of the programme as a “new phase of Plan Colombia” has given ammunition to those who view it as a way to secure lucrative contracts for US companies.Under the 2000-16 Plan Colombia – which focused on tackling the country’s twin guerrilla and narco-trafficking problems – much of the $10bn in aid went to US arms and security firms.Having fallen down the list of US foreign policy priorities under the Obama administration, US diplomatic efforts in Latin America have been revived in recent years. Donald Trump has sought to attract votes in Florida by taking a tough stance on socialist governments in Cuba and Venezuela, but the need resist China’s “predatory trade practices” is one of the few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on.The new, straight-talking strategy seems designed to antagonise China.“We advise Mr Pompeo to respect facts and truth, abandon arrogance and prejudice, stop smearing and spreading rumors about China,” the Chinese embassy in Suriname said.And while geopolitical rivals search to gain influence over natural resources, infrastructure and trade routes, the best interests of Latin America itself could be sidelined, said Soutar.“Both the BRI and America Crece invest overwhelmingly in fossil fuel infrastructure, locking Latin America into a high-carbon development pathway. The region desperately needs investment to rebuild after Covid, but this should be channelled towards low-carbon, climate-resilient development if it’s to generate sustained, long-term benefits.””
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‘Super Healthy’ College Student Dies of Rare Covid-19 Complications
by NYT > Education
Oct 01, 2020
“Chad Dorrill, a 19-year-old at Appalachian State, recovered from flulike symptoms but then developed neurological problems.”
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Police broke up a massive party of more than 1,000 people near Florida State University
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 29, 2020
“Florida is opening up and its students are itching to party.”
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Duke University names building after a Black woman for the first time in campus history
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 26, 2020
“Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke has now made history at least twice on Duke University's campus in North Carolina.”
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Poll shows Trump growing his lead in Iowa as Senate race tightens
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 24, 2020
“Monmouth University poll shows Trump leading Biden 49-46 among likely voters”
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Biden may seem like centrist, but his platform isn't
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 22, 2020
“Joe Biden's campaign policy agenda will add $5.4 trillion in new federal spending over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan research-based initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Biden has many aggressive plans, which include remaking the US health care system, expanding housing subsidies, and making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families making less than $125,000 a year. In fact, one economist concluded that Biden's policy platform added up to "the largest proposed spending increase by a presidential nominee since George McGovern," the Democrat who in 1972 proposed a universal basic income for all Americans.”
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Donald Trump vs. the Ivy League: An Election-Year Battle
by NYT > Education
Sep 22, 2020
“Mr. Trump, himself an Ivy League graduate, has made Princeton, Harvard and other elite colleges targets this year.”
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Some college students face stay-at-home orders as local leaders try to control Covid-19 spread
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 20, 2020
“Hoping to slow an outbreak of Covid-19 cases among its students, a small college in Rhode Island announced a stay-at-home order this week after more than 80 students tested positive for the virus in two days.”
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Firefighters in U.S. northwest aided by weather, as winds drive California blaze
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 20, 2020
“The weather shift, which followed intermittently heavy showers on Friday, helped more than 9,000 personnel fight 29 wildfires across Washington and Oregon, including the Riverside Fire southeast of Portland, the U.S. Forestry Service said. Firefighters can expect another 2 to 4 inches of rain in the next week for coastal Oregon and parts of the Cascade Mountains, said David Roth, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park Maryland.”
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An Oklahoma State University bull rider died from injuries sustained during competition
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 20, 2020
“An Oklahoma State University bull rider has died from injuries suffered during a rodeo competition.”
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Top colleges should grow, rather than crow about rejecting nearly everyone
by Local Education
Sep 20, 2020
“With a new book, a higher education journalist suggests fresh thinking on the admission system.”
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‘We’re suddenly drowning in people’: Argentinians flock to Uruguay amid pandemic
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 20, 2020
“About 15,000 to 20,000 Argentinians are estimated to have moved to Uruguay since the pandemic beganAgustina Valls’ phone is ringing off the hook.“It started as a trickle when the pandemic first hit Argentina, but now we’re getting over 20 calls a day,” she said from her office in Uruguay’s luxury beach resort of Punta Del Este. Valls runs a thriving business guiding well-off Argentinians through the red tape of acquiring Uruguayan residence – a skill she learned arranging her own residency application after marrying a Uruguayan lawyer last October.“The pandemic hit us like a sledgehammer – we are suddenly drowning in people wanting to come here,” said her husband Diego Torres. About 15,000 to 20,000 Argentinians are estimated to have moved to Uruguay since the pandemic began in March – a number equivalent to about 0.6% of Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million. And Uruguay is encouraging the flow. South America’s smallest nation not only lowered the minimum value of property foreigners must acquire to obtain tax residency from $1.7m to just $380,000 earlier this year, but also passed a new law offering arrivals a 10-year “tax holiday”. Mariana, who asked to use a pseudonym, is typical of the Argentinians moving to Punta del Este.“We already owned a summer apartment here and I came in search of new professional horizons last November,” said the 52-year-old marketing consultant now working in Uruguay’s buoyant film services industry.“But when the pandemic struck in March, my husband and my two sons joined me permanently. My sons are taking their university courses online from here just as they would in Argentina.”Once known as “the Switzerland of South America”, because of its high quality of life and its former banking secrecy laws, Uruguay has now become its New Zealand.Its population is only 66% the size of the Kiwi state, but both countries have seen fewer than 2,000 cases and coronavirus deaths in double digits. Thanks to a large testing and contact tracing program, most of Uruguay’s schools, restaurants and sports clubs have remained open throughout the pandemic. In stark contrast, Uruguay’s neighbors, Argentina and Brazil, currently rank third and fourth worldwide in the daily number of reported new cases, according to WHO figures. With its wide beaches, luxurious mansions and expensive nightclubs, Punta del Este has for decades been the summer home of South American millionaires – and a smattering of wealthy Europeans. “About 100 Europeans arrived on private jets as soon as the pandemic started in Europe and only started flying back home around June-July when the virus panic abated,” said local realtor Juan Carlos Sorhobigarat, whose houses list at up to $6.5m. Argentinian surfer Jona Mela, 33, has ensconced himself at the summer home a friend lent him on Solanas beach. Mela, who usually runs surfing and yoga retreats in Bali, México, Brazil and El Salvador, is now hosting them in Uruguay. “My friends in Argentina are constantly writing me to ask how they can come here,” Mela says. “Apart from a refuge from the pandemic, what they mostly want is peace.” Uruguay has long offered a calm contrast to the deep social divisions and political animosity in its giant neighbouring countries. Uruguay ranks 21st in Transparency International’s “corruption perceptions index”. By contrast, Argentina and Brazil rank 66 and 106, respectively. Uruguay’s income per capita is the highest in Latin America, at $16,230 a year in 2019, compared to only $11,200 in Argentina.The country can also boast legal marijuana, legal abortion, gay marriage and – in contrast to the staunch Catholicism of its neighbours – a society so secularized that Christmas and Easter are referred to as "“Family Day” and “Tourism Week”. Its efforts to contain the coronavirus were helped by a relatively small population, but it also extensive public health coverage and almost 100% access to running water.Jaime Miller heads Uruguay XXI, a government agency in charge of attracting foreign investment. “Why we’re so successful against the pandemic? Because the government called in the scientists and respected their advice. People saw that and in turn respected the government’s recommendations to wear masks and socially distance without it ever having to be mandated,” he said. Warming to his theme, he continued: “We have a solid democracy with economic rules that don’t change with every new president, unrestricted press freedom, no corruption, a government-run fast internet across the whole country, powered by 100% renewable energy, a solid public health system, transparency, respect for the institutions and a strong respect for science.” It is a boast that in the mouth of an official from many other countries would probably sound presumptuous. But in the case of Uruguay, it may well be true.”
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Did Russian Spies Use Diplomatic Cover to Run a Global Cocaine-Smuggling Operation?
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 20, 2020
“> This is a joint investigation by The Daily Beast and the Dossier Center.Six men await trial in Moscow and Buenos Aires, charged with operating one of the craziest, most ambitious narco-trafficking rings in history. Russia’s embassy in Argentina was the storage depot and Russian government transport was intended to move a cartel-sized consignment of virtually uncut cocaine from South America to Moscow. It was a transnational crime that astounded and confused the world, not least because authorities allege it was carried out by a small but resourceful cabal including one dirty embassy employee, one corrupt cop, and one charismatic chameleon who used some of the most secure Russian state real estate to store and smuggle $60 million worth of drugs. According to the official narrative, they did it all right under the noses of innocent diplomats and intelligence officers—and they would have gotten away with it without the plucky joint police work of Russian and Argentinian law enforcement. But what if that neat conclusion, which will soon be presented in court, is intentionally incomplete, a whitewash designed to protect more senior officials in the Russian government?The Daily Beast, in collaboration with the London-based Dossier Center, has obtained the documents from both the Russian and Argentinian investigations of the notorious 2018 cocaine bust, including hundreds of hours of telephone wiretap recordings, reams of witness and suspect interrogation transcripts, and nearly 10,000 pages of police and intelligence case files. These files were leaked to the Dossier Center from two separate sources, including one in Argentina connected with that country’s investigation who believes these forensic materials cast doubt on the alleged involvement in the affair of two indicted Argentines. The other source is close to the Russian investigation. All told, both sets of files show gaping holes, contradictions, discrepancies and implausible conclusions, which often border on the ludicrous.  At best, these documents suggest a staggering level of incompetence, with credible leads not followed up and government officials credibly implicated in the course of the joint investigation not investigated or prosecuted. At worst, they paint a darker picture of a coordinated, hemisphere-spanning coverup designed to protect those government officials and possibly other unnamed co-conspirators higher up in the food chain in Russia.One U.S. federal drug enforcement agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity thinks that all indications point to the latter. “According to our information, some members of the Russian embassy in Argentina... were aware of drug-related activities and were associated with the drug mafia. At some point there was a leak. The Argentinian authorities found out about the cocaine and contacted the embassy, after which the Russian side decided it was safer to ‘find’ the drugs. The scandal was resolved at a diplomatic level and no real investigation was conducted by Argentina.”But that’s not the public line of the Argentinian government. On Feb. 22, 2018, Patricia Bullrich, Argentina’s national security minister, lit up Twitter. She posted to her official account videos of the seizure of almost 400 kilograms of cocaine from the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires. “The investigation lasted more than a year, both in Argentina and Russia, and together we detained 6 members of this group that planned to transport a cargo worth more than 50 million euro,” one of Bullrich’s tweets read.The extraordinary location and sheer volume of the narcotics uncovered made this an explosive international story. It became an even bigger news event when Bullrich announced that Ivan Bliznyuk, the liaison officer at the Institute of Public Security, Buenos Aires’s police academy, had been arrested in connection with the same drug case. Yet the evidence for his participation in the drug-running syndicate rests almost entirely on the word of a Russian embassy security official, who, by his own admission, adopted a see-no-evil approach for several months to the presence of 12 strange suitcases stored on embassy grounds.Bliznyuk and a fellow Argentine, the U.S. drug enforcement agent said, “were detained in order to deflect suspicion from the embassy and [Russian] Foreign Ministry officials who used diplomatic channels for smuggling and were the drugs’ real beneficiaries.” An officer in Argentina’s Federal Intelligence Agency agrees that there were other embassy staff members involved, and adds that they likely had connections to Russian intelligence owing to the tradecraft and planning involved in the abortive scheme.At the center of this complex web of alleged criminality sits the main defendant in the case, Andrei Kovalchuk. He claims he is the victim of a vast conspiracy and ran afoul of the very intelligence organs he had faithfully served for years—the organs of two countries, in fact, Russia and Germany. “My misfortunes began,” he wrote from a prison cell in Berlin where he awaited extradition to Moscow, “after the operation to join the Crimea to Russia in 2014, in which I took part, for which I was awarded a medal for this operation, which is located here, in Berlin.” Kovalchuk’s lawyer insists his client has helped nab terrorists, mobsters, and gun-runners from Lower Saxony to Düsseldorf. He denies all of the charges.At once a cipher and a changeling, Kovalchuk is full of fantastical tales about himself and his various clients, cronies and accomplices but this much can be solidly established: He maintained lasting relationships with a series of security officials in various countries, as well as employees of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He had an excellent working knowledge of the layout and protocols of Russian missions, not to mention the protocol for wrapping and diplomatic parcels. And he allegedly seconded a host of Russian government vehicles and aircraft to move not just drugs but jewelry, clothes, and pharmaceuticals across national borders. Based on the Argentine and Russian indictments, we are invited to believe that all of this was arranged privately by Kovalchuk with a little cash and a lot of cognac, cigars, and candies courtesy of a burly and hirsute business associate, a camera-friendly Russian exile in Germany who’s taken to calling himself a “baron.”An international man of mystery requires manifold identities. Over a remarkable 20-year career, Kovalchuk has passed himself off not only as a spook, but also a diplomat, a Gazprom representative, a shrink, a philanthropist, and a man of leisure. Yet in spite of all his extraordinary Moscow connections, this Ukrainian-born grifter was never even a legal Russian citizen; all of his passports, the case files show, were invalid. Thus the main perpetrator sitting in pretrial detention in Moscow is technically stateless. Did Kovalchuk spy for the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, or was it the GRU, its military service? Both deny he was one of theirs. “Kovalchuk is a man of intelligence, perhaps retired, but still serving the Russian government,” a source in Argentina’s Federal Intelligence Agency told us. This Russian Spy Agency Is in the Middle of EverythingThat would certainly explain why the functionaries in the Russian Foreign Ministry clearly implicated in the case files as Kovalchuk’s blackmarket handmaids were never investigated or suspended or fired from their jobs. In fact, they all seem to have been untroubled by this scandal, all, that is, save the one who committed “suicide” outside his Moscow apartment three weeks after the cocaine was discovered at the embassy in Buenos Aires. Kovalchuk is also being tried in closed Russian court, a dispensation normally reserved for minors, sex offenders or those for whom publicized due process risks compromising matters of national security.Both the Russian and Argentinian governments have failed to account for how Kovalchuk, a man of limited financial resources, acquired eight-figures worth of high-purity marching powder or to determine its ultimate beneficiaries. At times, the investigators simply failed to follow up on obvious leads, such as investigating the possible involvement of the Sinaloa drug cartel as the manufacturers of the cocaine or following up on a Dutch phone number said to belong to the intended buyer or recipient of it.Still another curiosity of this affair is why Nikolai Patrushev, the chairman of the National Security Council, the former director of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and one of the most powerful strongmen in Vladimir Putin’s inner sanctum, flew to and from Argentina, allegedly on the same Russian government plane used in the sting operation that snared Kovalchuk. And why did the Kremlin then deny that his aircraft (and possibly also Patrushev himself) had been involved in this drug-trafficking story?Whoever Andrei Kovalchuk is, or was, before his name appeared in bold multilingual print, his alleged coke-smuggling plan required a network of well-placed fixers and mules. He found his first alleged courier in an embassy. The First Mule?In 2012, Ali Abyanov, the head of the administrative and economics department at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, said he received a call from someone who introduced himself as Andrei Kovalchuk, a security officer at the Russian embassy in Berlin. According to the case files, Kovalchuk told his ostensible colleague that he’d be traveling to Argentina in the middle of the year and would very much like to meet. Abyanov later told Russian investigators that he didn’t know why this person had called him or why he wanted to meet him but he consented anyway. Kovalchuk must have made an excellent first impression because Abyanov agreed to drive him back to Buenos Aires International Airport by diplomatic car. Once they arrived at the airport Kovalchuk removed his luggage from the vehicle—all but one suitcase weighing between 25 and 30 kilograms. The heft, he told Abyanov, owed to the gustatory contents: wine, coffee grounds, and cookies. According to Abyanov’s interrogation, Kovalchuk then gave the property manager $1,000 and asked if he wouldn’t mind mailing the suitcase to Russia on Kovalchuk’s behalf at a later date. Abyanov said he took his new acquaintance’s word at face value and never opened the parcel. Around the end of year, Kovalchuk allegedly called Abyanov and told him it was time to send his package: a Russian cargo plane scheduled to fly to Moscow out of Montevideo, Uruguay, was leaving at the end of 2012 and his stuff should be on it. Montevideo is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Buenos Aires in good traffic, but Abyanov couriered the suitcase, then submitted it as cargo on the departing flight. The Argentinian ConnectionThe following year, 2013, Kovalchuk visited Argentina three times, now with an entirely different occupation. No longer a former security officer attached to the embassy in Berlin, he was now an employee of Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. On one of these three trips, Kovalchuk met Nikolai Shelepov, the first secretary of the Russian embassy in Argentina, whose job is that of assistant head of security for the ambassador, a job often filled by an intelligence officer. They went to a cafe and Kovalchuk said he’d come to town to check on the “feasibility of Gazprom acquiring a historic building in the center of Buenos Aires,” according to Shelepov, who said Kovalchuk also boasted of his many contacts in the Russian Foreign Ministry.Shelepov was also sufficiently impressed with his vouched-for compatriot. He decided to introduce Kovalchuk to Ivan Bliznyuk, the liaison officer of the Institute of Public Safety, the point of contact for international relations at the Buenos Aires police academy. Bliznyuk is an Argentine of Russian heritage; he had three children but lived on a modest state wage and he “dreamed of finding a job with Gazprom,” according to Shelepov. As part of our investigation, we wrote to Bliznyuk about his role, and he confirmed that Kovalchuk had passed himself off as a Gazprom employee who needed a keyed-in local to help buy “a building in Buenos Aires for their headquarters... That’s why Shelepov invited me for a beer at a bar and introduced us to each other there.”According to the case files, Kovalchuk returned to Argentina in 2014, Abyanov told investigators, and handed off two more suitcases to his mule. He again told Abyanov they were filled with wine, coffee and cookies, only this time he had a special set of shipping instructions, as Abyanov recalled: “to pack the suitcases specially with paper, string and wax seal. Usually, this is how diplomatic mail is packed, which is not subject to inspection.” Kovalchuk is alleged to have paid $1,000 per suitcase. Abyanov might not have been the snooping type but nor was he under any illusions as to why he was so handsomely compensated, $1,000 goes a long way in Argentina. He sent them from Montevideo to Moscow aboard a Russian military transport plane. In his testimony to Russian investigators, Abyanov contradicted himself as to what he suspected he was transporting for Kovalchuk. First, in 2017, he said, he believed the packages contained “prohibited” items but in a separate interrogation, in 2019, he said he never suspected Kovalchuk was anything but above-board owing to his familiarity with “everyone at the embassy” and his frequent attendance at embassy receptions. The Policeman’s BallAt the invitation of the Russian Interior Ministry, a delegation of police officers from Buenos Aires, including Bliznyuk, traveled to Moscow. After the official ceremonies concluded, the guests decided to take a trip to St. Petersburg, and Bliznyuk was tasked with organizing the excursion. He asked Shelepov back at the embassy about how best to conduct a guided tour for the Spanish-speaking delegation of police officers , who are known as gendarmes in Argentina, through Russia’s cultural capital. Shelepov thought of Kovalchuk, the well-connected Gazprom rep, who was only too happy to help. He linked Bliznyuk up with one of his old friends and business associates from Germany, Baron Konstantin von Bossner. Konstanin Loskutnikov, as he was born, is a bearded bear of a man with more than a passing resemblance to Robbie Coltrane’s ex-KGB mafioso Valentin Zukovsky in the James Bond films. He owns a Berlin-based company, Bossner, which hawks chocolate, hand-rolled Nicaraguan and Dominican cigars, ostrich and python purses, crocodile shoes, Georgian wine, and its own signature brand of cognac, Bossner X.O. All of these products, the company website notes, are “designed to cause joy and positive emotions.” Bossner is as devoted to God as he is to bespoke leather accessories; he founded the Russian Orthodox Benefactors Club, a German-registered charity, in 2010, and was awarded the Order of Honor in Germany earlier this year for his philanthropic work. According to the investigative files, the Baron made sure Bliznyuk showed the Argentinian cops a good time. They were feted with Bossner staples—cognac, chocolate and cigars— and taken on a boating trip along the rivers and canals of Russia’s most European city. Kovalchuk at times portrayed himself as a representative of the Bossner company, someone who came into these many “samples” of booze and cigars, which he’d share with grateful officials and influencers from many nations. A letter from Bossner’s Russian Orthodox Benefactors Club, signed by Bossner, shows that Kovalchuk was an official representative of the Berlin-based charity. According to the wiretap transcripts, Kovalchuk even asked Bossner’s wife if she’d become his son’s godmother, an honor she accepted. Bossner, however, maintained throughout his Interior Ministry interrogations that he had no substantive relationship with Kovalchuk, whom he portrayed as a huckster and schnorrer, eager to lap up those free “samples” of the exile’s finest luxury goods as an advance on investments which never came. “Several years ago [Kovalchuk] was brought to my office by a high-ranking employee of Gazprom in Germany and introduced as a colonel, the head of the special services, who deals with consulates in Europe, Asia, Latin America and other rubbish,” Bossner told Germany’s OstWest TV in 2018. “Mr. Kovalchuk, like many others, tried our products, smoked our cigars, drank our cognac, then, over the years… asking for one sample, [then] another sample, [he told us] he will try to find a client, that he flies around to the whole world that he will try to organize the sale of our products, and naturally wants to make money on this. We are always open to any kind of cooperation, so it often comes from us samples of cigarettes and cognac, but not a single deal, not a single contract was concluded.”  A New Hiding Place, a New FriendKovalchuk flew back to Argentina three times in 2015, according to travel records. On his third trip, adhering to a now-established tradition, he gave Abyanov two suitcases and $2,000. Abyanov said he hid these away in a car garage attached to the embassy school where the diplomats sent their kids, awaiting Kovalchuk’s notice of when and how they should leave the country. In February 2016, a delegation of Russian policemen flew to Argentina as part of a kind of exchange program following the highly successful Argentinian delegation from the year before. Kovalchuk was in town and attended a reception in honor of the visiting officers at the Russian embassy. Abyanov said he introduced him to Oleg Vorobiev, the new first secretary and embassy security chief, who had replaced Shelepov. No longer a Gazprom rep, Kovalchuk was presented as a security official attached to the Russian Foreign Ministry.Kovalchuk relayed greetings to Vorobiev from his predecessor Shelepov, now back in Moscow. Vorobiev and Kovalchuk struck up a friendship and started to communicate. In March 2016, Kovalchuk told the security chief he’d been appointed the Berlin representative of Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s cultural outreach arm, according to Vorobiev. (Vorobiev later told investigators that he never asked for nor saw a business card from Kovalchuk, even as the latter’s occupation morphed throughout their relationship.) An Impossible ScoreKovalchuk returned to Argentina several more times in the spring and summer of 2016, always stopping by the embassy, and, checking in to see Abyanov and Vorobiev, according to their statements to investigators. According to the Russian case files, including Abyanov’s statement to investigators, sometime in the middle of 2016, Kovalchuk gave 10 suitcases, all supposedly filled with wine and semiprecious gems, to Abyanov, who moved them to the same garage in the embassy school where he’d stowed the previous two. He asked another embassy employee to pack these suitcases as diplomatic mail. Abyanov then moved all 12 suitcases from the garage to a little-used utility room in the school. It was a seemingly ideal hiding spot, among broken tables, chairs, old computers and other junk.Each of the 12 suitcases, as would later be discovered, were filled with 30 briquettes of nearly undiluted cocaine, with each briquette containing a little over a kilogram. The value of 389 kilograms, the possible total weight in Kovalchuk’s alleged consignment, is around $60 million. Drug enforcement experts from multiple countries said that such a sizable score cannot have been purchased from local drug dealers. Kolvachuk, they said, would have needed a longstanding and trusted relationship with high-level narco traffickers to acquire and move that kind of volume. Neither the Argentinian nor Russian investigators tried to uncover the supply chain or find out how Kovalchuk, an alleged Russian spy, who had no significant sources of wealth, ended up with drugs worth tens of millions of dollars. Three types of cartel stamps—a star within a star, a horseshoe and the initials “LG”—were found on the briquettes. The first two are typically associated with the Sinaloa Cartel. Nothing in the Argentinian or Russian documents we have pored through indicates that this piece of evidence was investigated.  The Second Mule?On July 19, 2016, Abyanov’s embassy contract expired. A new property manager, Igor Rogov, took his place.Sometime during the month-long handover period, Abyanov says he told his successor about the presence of 12 boxes in the utility room, adding that he didn’t know what they contained but that they all belonged to Kovalchuk. Rogov didn’t know who Kovalchuk was and asked Abyanov about him. “Abyanov answered me that Kovalchuk is a person ‘from the center,’ that is, from the Russian Foreign Ministry,” Rogov told Russian investigators. “Abyanov spoke very well of Kovalchuk and said that Kovalchuk had visited Argentina many times and knew many people, including the embassy staff.”Several months went by. Then, in a Skype chat, Rogov said Abyanov asked him to send the suitcases to Moscow by special military plane, which was due to arrive at the Montevideo airport in early December 2016. Rogov needed help for the job. “I unsuccessfully turned to one or another embassy employee,” he told investigators, “eventually reaching the military attaché and even the Ambassador Viktor Koronelli."Koronelli had been ambassador since 2011, a year before Kovalchuk first made contact with Ali Abyanov. And yet, in spite of Kovalchuk’s frequent appearances at the embassy, Koronelli told investigators that he’d only met him once, in March 2016. It was at the request of Abyanov, who’d introduced Kovalchuk as a representative of the Russian Orthodox Benefactors Club, an employee, in other words, of Bossner’s charity. Kovalchuk took that occasion to name-drop several mutual friends and acquaintances, according to Ambassador Koronelli’s statement to investigators. Koronelli added that he never bothered to check on his interlocutor’s bona fides.“It’s incredibly easy to check on someone’s credentials from an embassy,” said Jan Neumann, a former FSB officer from Directorate K, the same financial crimes unit tasked with investigating the Kovalchuk case. Neumann defected to the United States in 2008 and became a CIA and FBI informant. “You put a call into Moscow. If the person you’re checking on claims to have been posted to another Russian mission, Moscow then calls that mission to verify he’s legit. All of this takes minutes. And it’s simply not possible that the head of security in the embassy in Argentina didn’t check on Kovalchuk. It’s a necessary protocol.”Koronelli’s term as ambassador to Argentina ended in June 2018, about four months after the cocaine scandal was publicized. Koronelli is now Russia’s ambassador to Mexico; he declined to comment on this story.According to the transcript of an Argentinian wiretap of Bliznyuk, Koronelli quarreled with Kovalchuk, a fact Koronelli did not recount to Russian investigators after saying he’d only met Kovalchuk once, casually, at the embassy. This conversation, dated Oct. 11, 2017, has never before been made public and undercuts Koronelli’s claim of a one-off encounter with the alleged primary drug smuggler. It also complicates the two Argentinian defendants’ role as alleged accomplices, as it suggests that Kovalchuk hadn’t paid Bliznyuk or Alexander Chikalo as part of the scheme.> Bliznyuk: Sanya [Alexander], we from Andriukha [Kovalchuk], neither I nor you, have not received a penny in all this time.> > Chikalo: Not once, nothing.> > Bliznyuk: Especially since the suitcases are at the embassy. First, the embassy issues... well, he [Kovalchuk] had a fight with Koronelli.> > Bliznyuk: Yes, the new ambassador will arrive soon.  A New Exit StrategyFor some reason, Kovalchuk allegedly changed his cocaine exfiltration scheme, and sped up the timeline. Instead of letting Rogov dispatch the suitcases by special military plane in December, Kovalchuk flew back to Argentina on Nov. 25 to retrieve the items himself. When he arrived, he spent a day roaming the city but stayed clear of the embassy, usually one of his first ports of call. It’s not known what he got up to that day, nor with whom, but the 24-hour interregnum cost him dearly.On Nov. 25, the day Kovalchuk touched down at Buenos Aires International Airport, Rogov finally told Vorobiev about the suitcases, according to Rogov’s testimony to Russian investigators. Vorobiev, he said, decided to check on their contents. He found the briquettes. “Vorobiev ripped the packaging off one of them, and we saw a compressed white powder inside,” Rogov said in his interrogation. “We realized that it could be drugs.”Vorobiev then notified Ambassador Koronelli, according to the Russian case files. Koronelli phoned the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. The 9th Division of the K-Directorate of the Economic Security Service of FSB and the 14th Division of the Main Drug Control Directorate of the Interior Ministry opened an investigation. Except the Russian government hasn't kept the story of how it unfolded straight.Most of the files from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office indicate that the suitcases of cocaine were officially “found”—meaning through a purposive search for them, not an accidental discovery—on the evening of Dec. 8, 2016, when, at the direction of the Foreign Ministry, embassy staff reopened them. The staff did so, according to these files, in the presence of FSB representatives who had flown to Buenos Aires from Moscow after Koronelli alerted the Foreign Ministry. And yet, in one FSB document the suitcases are recorded as having been “found” on Dec. 4 and opened the next day. That document makes no mention of FSB representatives from Moscow being present for this earlier unveiling. A similar discrepancy concerns the total weight of the evidence. Depending on which document you’re looking at, the 12 suitcases contain amounts of cocaine ranging from 357 to 389 kilograms, a shortfall of 32 kilograms, or $5 million worth of cocaine. (The true weight may never be known: In August 2018, the Argentinians burnt all the cocaine in accordance with what they say were the protocols of evidence destruction.) “Under the Federal Rules for Evidence, the date discrepancy and the weight discrepancy would potentially jeopardize any criminal prosecution of those responsible,” the U.S. drug enforcement agent said. “The evidence is not exact and the drug amount and weight need to be verified and weighed by a laboratory and a clear chain of custody must be intact. The Argentinian-Russian case reeks of evidence mishandling... of the investigation and prosecution.” The SwitcherooOn the evening of Dec. 13, Koronelli had a meeting with Patricia Bullrich, the Argentinian security minister, formally briefing her about the presence of hundreds of kilos of cocaine in the Russian embassy. At the same meeting, according to the case files, Vorobiev suggested to his Argentine counterparts that one of the smugglers was likely Ivan Bliznyuk, the point-man at the Argentinian police academy.On Dec. 14, a special operation was launched by the Argentinian gendarmerie to catch the domestic side of this narco-trafficking ring. The 12 suitcases were removed from the embassy and loaded onto a pickup truck and driven to a police facility. They recorded the procedure. There, the cases were opened, and the drugs were weighed. The officers then swapped the cocaine for a mixture of sand and flour, repackaged in bags rather than briquettes, and resealed everything as it had been. The suitcases were then returned to the embassy, where the gendarmes installed three cameras on the school premises. GPS systems were allegedly placed inside suitcases.Argentinian law enforcement opened their own criminal investigation and tapped Bliznyuk’s phones as well as those of Chikalo, a close friend and sometime neighbor in Buenos Aires. These wiretaps soon established that both men were in constant communication with Andrei Kovalchuk. So Russian authorities subsequently tapped Kovalchuk’s phones. The Smuggler’s DilemmaThe alleged main actor in what was now a seemingly compromised smuggling ring is accused of spending the next year or so attempting different exfiltration schemes. One, for instance, involved bringing Russian cadets to Argentina on a trip bankrolled by the fun-loving Bossner, the idea being that the cadets would fly home with undeclared cargo, easily explained away as souvenirs or somesuch. For various reasons, all of Kovalchuk’s alleged gambits fizzled. Then, on Oct. 11, 2017, he notified Vorobiev and Rogov he was coming back to Buenos Aires himself, unaware they were now part of a government plot to catch him.The FSB and Interior Ministry investigators weren’t quite ready to close the net. Instead, they ordered Rogov to leave town on a business trip to the coastal city of Mar del Plata, leaving Kovalchuk without his only keymaster for the embassy school utility room. We know what happened when Kovalchuk arrived in Buenos Aires because we have the wiretaps of Bliznyuk and Chikalo discussing it on Oct. 11. Kovachulk, Bliznyuk said on the phone, had asked him to move suitcases he’d left at the embassy in exchange for $10,000. Bliznyuk told Chikalo that Kovalchuk had said the cases contained “sea lion skins” from Uruguay that could be sold at high prices in Russia and Germany. Judging from their conversation, Bliznyuk and Chikalo clearly thought Kovalchuk was untrustworthy and suspect; Bliznyuk told his friend he’d have no part in Kovalchuk’s nutty scheme. We also know what Bliznyuk did next, based on another wiretap: he immediately called Vorobiev on Oct. 12, a day after his conversation with Chikalo, to tell the embassy security chief about Kovalchuk’s solicitation and the presence of suspicious parcels on embassy grounds, which Bliznyuk said probably contained “forbidden elements.” Vorobiev was now part of the sting operation to catch Kovalchuk and so he played dumb, casting doubt on the story. But on that same call Vorobiev asked Bliznyuk if the latter intended to help Kovalchuk, to which Bliznyuk answered, “Can’t do it and that’s all. Why would I mess with this?” The Latvian DeceptionAs Kovalchuk allegedly saw it, he was running out of time and willing or available intermediaries to get his drugs out of Argentina. Investigators claim that Kovalchuk first turned to a familiar pretext: the largesse of Baron Konstanin von Bossner when it came to spoiling friendly foreigners. According to this stratagem, an embassy car would drive to the airport to collect Bossner’s cognac and chocolate intended for the Argentinian policemen from the St. Petersburg delegation. The “gifts” would be flown to Buenos Aires from Berlin, where Bossner’s office was, on a private jet. For the return flight, Kovalchuk’s “sea lion skins” and the supposed paraphernalia of diplomats—in reality, the drugs—would allegedly be loaded onboard. Except the jet wasn’t flying directly to Berlin. First it would land in Riga, Latvia, where Kovalchuk allegedly said he had cronies who’d move the goods past customs without any problem. Flying on to Berlin would then mean facing no inspection hurdle owing to the European Union’s Schengen area of unrestricted travel across borders. One of Kovalchuk’s  business partners in Moscow, Ishtimir Khudjamov, said he was asked to help with the operation. On Oct. 14, 2017, Khudjamov flew to Berlin and picked up a box of cognac and sweets from Bossner’s office. To justify the stopover in Riga on the way back, Khudjamov said he picked up something else: three Latvian nationals who weren’t told of their real role as decoys in a drug-running operation. Instead, Khudjamov told the Latvians to pose as a technical crew attached to Zvezda, the Russian Defense Ministry’s TV station. All they knew was that they’d be delivering the gifts to Argentina, then transporting things on the way home. (Khudjamov now pleads innocence and ignorance to being a narcotrafficker at all; he told Russian investigators that Kovalchuk had claimed the return cargo was a rare and expensive brand of coffee beans.)The problem was Rogov was still away on his concocted “business trip” when the Bossner presents were due to arrive. And, as the property manager was still the only one who could access the utility room in the embassy school, investigators allege Kovalchuk couldn’t retrieve his drugs on time. On Oct. 18, the jet left Buenos Aires, light of the cognac and chocolate, but also any coke.Although it was a bust, the plan demonstrated Kovalchuk’s well-honed tradecraft. The TrapLess than a month later, on Nov. 8, Kovalchuk called Rogov and Vorobiev and told them he’d be back in Argentina in two days. This time Rogov wasn’t told to feign a work excursion. With Vorobiev's permission, he met Kovalchuk and told him the suitcases could be shipped aboard a Russian government aircraft the following month. Around the same time, Kovalchuk spoke to Khudjamov, according to Argentinian wiretaps. They discussed “200 kilograms” without specifying the substance (although we can probably guess) which were somewhere in Uruguay. Kovalchuk said he wanted that consignment flown out of Buenos Aires on the Russian plane.He was finally in luck, or so it may have seemed. On Nov. 13, his suitcases found themselves entered onto the manifest. His luggage was supposed to be transferred by RA-96023, a newish Ilyushin-96 long-haul airliner operated by Russia’s Special Flight Detachment, the property, no less, of Russia’s Presidential Administration used most frequently by Nikolai Patrushev. Patrushev is one of the most influential members of the Kremlin inner circle and a decision-maker when it comes to Russian foreign policy. He succeeded Vladimir Putin as director of the FSB when Putin was appointed prime minister of Boris Yeltsin’s government in 1999. Patrushev is now Secretary of the National Security Council and RA-96023 is so associated with his overseas jaunts that it’s colloquially known in Russia as “Patrushev’s plane.”On Feb. 27, 2018 Yelena Krylova, the spokesperson for Russia’s Presidential Affairs Directorate, denied that the aircraft was involved in the “cocaine case.” “Journalists made conclusions based on inaccurate information—in this case, photographs that can be easily falsified thanks to modern technology,” Krylova said. Her denial, however, contradicts what’s in the Argentinian case file, according to which the FSB informed Buenos Aires as early as Nov. 17, 2017 that Patrushev’s plane was to be used for the special operation. The plane number 96023 is clearly visible not only in the photographs publicly released by the Argentinian gendarmerie but also in the video, uploaded on their official YouTube channel on Feb. 23, 2018. The Argentinian files also confirm that RA-96023 was indeed used “during the visit” of Patrushev to Argentina, suggesting that’s how the Russian official got there and back. Yet someone in the Russian government doesn’t want this fact to be publicly acknowledged. Shortly after Russian media reports surfaced about Patrushev’s plane possibly being used in a covert drug bust, the website with the relevant flight data, russianplanes.net, went offline. Moreover, the creator of that website removed the russianplanes.net group from VKontakte, a popular social media network, as well as his personal VKontakte page and a sister portal, russianships.net, dedicated to tracking seafaring vessels. “I just took it all and deleted it, maybe something didn’t work out right there,” the website operator, identified as “Kiba,” said in an interview with independent Russian outlet Mediazona. “I’m a little tense now, so I went and removed it, I don’t want to set anyone up.” Patrushev’s plane was scheduled to arrive from Moscow on Dec. 4, delivering Patrushev for one of those jaunts, a visit to Argentina. It was scheduled to return to Moscow with the national security secretary on board on Dec. 6. This is the conveyance Kovalchuk allegedly thought wise to transport almost 400 kilos of high-grade cocaine across multiple time zones.On Nov. 15, Kovalchuk and Khudjamov left Argentina. Shortly before departing, Kovalchuk spoke to Rogov and made a few final touches to his plan. He allegedly asked him to remove from the suitcases the name of the Russian diplomat they ostensibly belonged to: Alexander Nezimov, the deputy director of the consular department of the Foreign Ministry. Kovalchuk allegedly instructed Rogov to simply write Kovalchuk’s Russian telephone number on the cases and use the abbreviation “CD,” likely standing for “Corps Diplomatique,” which is carried by all diplomatic licenses overseas.On Dec. 4, Vorobiev drove the suitcases filled with sand and flour to Buenos Aires International Airport and loaded them onto Patrushev’s Ilyushin. There is every indication, based on both the public record and the Argentinian case files, that Patrushev was on board the plane when it departed Argentina for Russia, making the former FSB director and one of Putin’s most trusted national security advisers a party to the sting operation. “A Close Partnership”On the morning of Dec. 7, Patrushev’s plane touched down in Moscow. So did the suitcases allegedly belonging to Kovalchuk, which were sent directly to an FSB storage facility. The next day the FSB called Kovalchuk’s telephone number, scrawled on the cargo. He picked up; the FSB officer on the other end introduced himself as a courier from the Foreign Ministry and asked about the pickup. Kovalchuk said his associate Vladimir Kalmykov would come to collect the parcels. On Dec. 9, Argentinian gendarmes arrived in Russia to assume their role in the special operation to snatch the smugglers.On Dec. 12, Kalmykov and Khudjamov arrived at a Foreign Ministry facility to take custody of the suitcases. They were immediately arrested by the FSB. According to documents from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the intended recipient of the suitcases could be in Belgium or the Netherlands. Yet no attempt was made to look for them. Moreover, a Dutch mobile phone number allegedly affiliated with the ultimate beneficiary of the cargo was never investigated. On the evening that Kalmykov and Khudjamov were nabbed, Ali Abyanov, the former property manager of the embassy in Buenos Aires, was also arrested at his apartment in Moscow. Kovalchuk wasn’t, however, as he was abroad.According to a source in his company at the time, he remained remarkably calm. When his friends advised him to flee to a country with no extradition treaty with Russia, he insisted he had nothing to worry about. On Dec. 19, Moscow declared Kovalchuk a wanted man at home and internationally. Interpol issued a “red notice” for his arrest.  Despite the arrests of Kalmykov, Abyanov, and Khudjamov in Russia, the Argentine suspects remained at large for several months. Ivan Bliznyuk even took a vacation with his wife to Italy before he and Alexander Chikalo were arrested in late February 2018. Bliznyuk, in fact, was taken into custody at the airport as he returned home. A day later, Bullrich, the national security minister, issued the statement about the discovery of cocaine in the Russian embassy. Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, followed suit the next day, announcing an 18 month-long joint operation to disrupt a narcotrafficking syndicate. “As the investigation discovered,” Zakharova’s statement read, “the cargo belonged to a former maintenance worker who had by that time completed his fixed term employment contract,” referring solely to Abyanov. “This experience serves as further evidence of the close partnership that has developed between our countries in different areas, including law enforcement.” On March 1, Kovalchuk was arrested in Germany. A month later Berlin received a request about his extradition to Russia. Several days after filing that request, however, Russia’s Federal Migration Service found that Kovalchuk was not, in fact, a citizen of the country. All three of his Russian passports had been issued illegally, a wrinkle which didn’t interfere with his extradition proceedings. On July 27, Kovalchuk was flown to Moscow from Germany and was immediately remanded to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center.The Argentines burnt all the cocaine the following month. According to Bliznuyk’s lawyer, they did so without a court order and in a civilian crematorium when a gendarmerie crematorium would have typically been used for such purposes. As of this writing the Argentinian prosecution has yet to provide Bliznyuk’s counsel with evidence of a proper court order for the evidence destruction.Actions in Buenos Aires should also have repercussions in Moscow. According to the Russian Criminal Procedural Code, evidence must be stored until a court order to destroy it is in force. Thus, the cases against Kovalchuk, Abyanov, Kalmykov and Khudjamov is set to be heard without the main evidence against them in existence.Germany, too, has questions to answer as to how and why it sent one of these defendants to Russia. Kovalchuk is a “stateless person,” according to Sergey Safonov, a senior prosecutor of the criminal and judicial department of the Moscow prosecutor’s office. And yet, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office consistently referred to him as a citizen of the Russian Federation in several requests made for his extradition. Alexander Hamburg, one of his lawyers in Germany, said Kovalchuk was extradited through an accelerated procedural mechanism that robbed him of the necessary time to file an appeal.  The Talented Mr. KovalchukThe criminal case against Andrei Kovalchuk gives him no nationality; it simply states he was born in Hertz. It does, however, note that on his various passport applications, Kovalchuk filled in Form No. 1P as having no definite place of residence and no form of employment—yet he was still granted three different Russian passports. Hertz is in the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine; Kovalchuk was born there in 1968. In 1986 he was drafted into the army in Kaliningrad; two years later he graduated from the 75th paratrooper school in Kirov, and then served for a year as a technician at the aviation school in Barnaul. He was officially discharged from the Soviet military in March 1989 for unknown reasons.His whereabouts and his activities disappeared into a black hole for about 10 years until he turned up in Germany in the late ’90s. Kovalchuk registered for a correspondence course in psychology at St. Petersburg State University. He stopped his higher education after only a few classes, according to the university’s psychology department chief, who said there was a rumor circulating at the time that Kovalchuk might have been arrested.According to the testimony of his friend Vadim Zhmurov, Kovalchuk next claimed to work as a security officer at the Russian embassy in Berlin in 2000. Witnesses interrogated by the Interior Ministry say that in the mid-2000s Kovalchuk lived in Amsterdam with his sister Irina Kuzmenko and her daughter Anastasia. There he met his first wife, Nadezhda Sorokina. In 2006, the entire family relocated to Germany, where Kovalchuk and Sorokina rented an apartment in the building used by Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian Foreign Ministry science and cultural arm.At some point in his Berlin period, Kovalchuk is accused of beginning to move goods through diplomatic channels. Irina, his sister, owned Irgotrade GmbH, a cargo transportation company registered in Berlin, which Kovalchuk allegedly used to embark on his smuggling career. On several occasions, his ventures were foiled. In August 2011, employees of Irgotrade tried to ferry 3.7 tons of goods, including 216 kilograms of silver, medicine, jewelry, and clothing, from Latvia to Russia. All of the freight, the company claimed, belonged to Sergei Sedykh, an employee of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Sedykh’s signature was even on the declarations presented to Latvian border guards, who confiscated the contraband and impounded the vehicle. In Russia, two criminal investigations were opened. A customs official was arrested and the jewelry company listed as one of the intended buyers of the cargo was ordered to pay a fine of about $47,000.Sedykh denied all responsibility. He said he hadn’t given anyone a power of attorney to move items on his behalf, nor had he filled out a declaration and signed any documents. He couldn’t say how the driver of the car had got a copy of his diplomatic passport. He didn’t have to: Sedykh was neither investigated nor fired from his job at the Foreign Ministry. He’s not alone in this respect; officials caught helping Kovalchuk with his illicit schemes have often mysteriously been given the all-clear by the Russian authorities. Friends in High PlacesA trio of high-ranking officials in the Consular Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow—Alexander Dudka, Lev Pausin and Alexander Nezimov—all facilitated Kovalchuk’s alleged contraband business, according to their own testimonies contained in the Russian case files. All of them—individually or collectively—accorded Kovalchuk privileged information about the movement of special government transports; issued him passes to roam around sensitive ministry facilities; introduced him to others who would act as fixers; and provided him with other material assistance in what they must have at least suspected was a blackmarket business. To Dudka, the chief adviser of the Consular Department, Kovalchuk was a self-declared technical officer for Rossotrudnichestvo in Berlin, the Foreign Ministry’s cultural outreach agency. He told Russian investigators that he met Kovalchuk in Berlin in 2011 while on a “business trip.” Then, in December 2017, shortly before the dozen suitcases of flour and sand arrived in Moscow, Dudka said Kovalchuk asked him to find a diplomatic vehicle to transport “12 boxes” from Russia to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Dudka subsequently gave Kovalchuk the relevant schedules of Foreign Ministry vehicles driving along those routes. How a Soviet Triple Agent Recruited New Spies in the WestDespite his admission that he allowed Kovalchuk to requisition government vehicles for alleged international smuggling, Dudka is still employed at the Russian Foreign Ministry.Kovalchuk named Alexander Nezimov, the deputy director of the Consular Department, as one of his “bosses,” without specifying what he meant by that term. “Goodbye, no comments,” Nezimov said when reached for comment on this story.The other alleged boss, Peter Polshikov, was the chief adviser of the Latin American Department of the Foreign Ministry. He was found dead in Moscow in December 2016, three weeks after the discovery of the cocaine in the embassy. Polshikov had been shot in the head; an automatic pistol was found next to his corpse, outside his apartment. Authorities ruled it a suicide. Polshikov’s neighbors recalled that before his death he had been acting strangely and had stopped communicating with his friends.  The ‘Spy’ Who Loved ManyKovalchuk serially and convincingly posed as an intelligence officer, the Russian case file states, either attached to the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, or the GRU, its military intelligence service. But the official Russian report concluded he was really neither. “In the light of these events, relevant inquiries were made to those institutions and agencies, the responses of which indicated that Kovalchuk is not an employee of the Russian Foreign Ministry, is not an employee of any law enforcement agency of Russia, and is not a representative in foreign institutions of Russia. Kovalchuk used his cunning and ingenuity for his personal, selfish purposes, in most cases achieving the results he needed.”Several of his contacts still maintain he was a spy. Sergey Borshchev at the Nakhimov Naval School of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the school that sent the Russian cadets to Argentina, thought Kovalchuk was an officer of the SVR. “According to Kovalchuk,” Borshchev told investigators, “he often came [to Russia] to work in the Russian Foreign Ministry, to meet with top officials of the Ministry, as well as to the SVR. Also, I had no doubts about his service, since he would often bring gifts from the SVR: calendars, key rings and other gifts with the symbols of the SVR.” Russian army officer Mikhail Kazantsev met Kovalchuk in 2011 when Kovalchuk’s nephew was serving in Kazantsev’s unit, 3641. Kazantsev told investigators that, in 2015, Kovalchuk offered him an opportunity to transport “goods other than food” from Germany to Russia using diplomatic channels. Kazantsev, too, believed Kovalchuk was a Russian intelligence officer and even claimed to have seen his SVR ID: “I believed Kovalchuk, as he spoke very convincingly, and when we met, he once showed me an ID card of an officer of the SVR, where his photograph was, and the rank of colonel was indicated. I would like to clarify that I perceived this document as genuine and not a fake.”There is plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Kovalchuk may have been entangled in some way with Russia’s vast national security apparatus. In his pretrial sessions in Moscow, media and relatives of all the defendants were removed from the courtroom to maintain secrecy. According to the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, a closed trial is permitted if the case concerns minors, sexual inviolability or state secrets, or if an open hearing may threaten the safety of the participants in the process. Regarding the “cocaine case,” as it’s commonly known in Moscow, there was no hint of the first two preconditions; only the last two could have plausibly served as grounds to keep the press and families out of the courtroom.  Out of the Embassy, Into the ShadowsJan Neumann, the FSB defector, said he sees one of two likely scenarios for what really happened, based on plot holes and elisions in the Argentinian and Russian investigations. “The first scenario: Russian intelligence was tracking a narcotrafficking network from South America to Russia and the whole sting operation was compromised, possibly through leaks. So they hastily covered everything up with this elaborate show involving Patrushev’s plane. “The second scenario: Russian intelligence was using one of its agents and his narco-trafficking network in South America to finance its own clandestine operations. It’s not uncommon for the Russian services to engage in questionable behavior to keep a ‘black budget’ going for something highly classified and sensitive.”Inside the KGB’s Super Power DivisionIf scenario two is closer to the reality, we may never know what that “something” is or was intended to be. In any event, the shadow cast over this remarkable crime saga far exceeds any light that’s been shone on it by two separate governments. As we’ve seen, wiretaps show that Ivan Bliznyuk and Alexander Chikalo talked freely with each other about how they hadn’t received any money from Kovalchuk in all the time they knew him; they described him as a chancer and liar who tried to convince them that his 12 suitcases contained sea lion skins, not drugs. If Bliznyuk and Chikalo were his witting accomplices, as Argentine prosecutors argue, then why would Kovalchuk have lied to them about the material he was trying to export? And why did Bliznyuk, who declined Kovalchuk’s alleged offer of $10,000 to help move the suitcases, quickly alert Vorobiev, the embassy security official, to their presence on embassy grounds? It was Blizynuk, the evidence in the wiretaps shows, who blew the whistle on a drug-smuggling operation he declined to be a part of. Yet he and Chikalo nevertheless await trial on narco-trafficking charges.We still don’t know who, exactly, Andrei Kovalchuk is or who he worked for. Is he the Slavic George Jung, a charismatic and unlikely cocaine smuggler who managed to suborn diplomats and cops with smooth talk, mutable covers, and modest bribes? Was he an asset or officer of one of Russia’s spy agencies? A con man? A patsy?  Or he is that postmodern commonplace in Vladimir Putin’s “mafia state”: a forbidding combination of all of the above?Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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2 HBCU presidents join Covid-19 vaccine trials to encourage participation
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 19, 2020
“When the presidents of two historically Black colleges announced they were participating in a Covid-19 vaccine trial, they hoped to encourage other African Americans to do the same to ensure that an eventual vaccine has been tested on -- and is effective for -- people of color.”
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Opinion: The college reopening mess didn't have to happen
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 17, 2020
“We shouldn't be surprised that every day seems to bring new reports about another college or university experiencing an outbreak of coronavirus and students having to be sent home. College students are of an age where they -- or their dorm mates -- are likely to be unable, or unwilling, to practice social distancing on campus.”
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University lecturer killed in elevator accident
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 17, 2020
“A respected French lecturer at Boston University was killed in what is believed to be a freak elevator accident.”
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Museum removes shrunken heads which 'reinforced racist thinking'
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 16, 2020
“A collection of shrunken heads has been removed from a museum linked to Oxford University as part of what it refers to as its decolonization process.”
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The Right Wing’s New Election Boogeyman
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 16, 2020
“For the Democrats dead-set on defeating Republican Sen. Susan Collins this November, a recent poll of the Maine U.S. Senate race brought seemingly distressing news: Democratic candidate Sara Gideon was leading Collins by a single point, per the survey, but a Green Party-aligned independent candidate was polling at a surprisingly high 6 percent. Given that Green candidates usually pull votes from the left, Collins’ legions of detractors on Resistance Twitter cried spoiler—fearing that in a tight, hotly contested race, the Green Party’s Lisa Savage would all but secure Collins another six years in the Senate.There is only one state, however, where that straightforward reading of the poll would be backwards—a bad sign for Collins, not a good one—and it happens to be the state she calls home. This fall, Maine is set to be the only state in the country to choose its president and members of Congress using a process called ranked choice voting. Under that system, voters are instructed to list their candidate preferences in order, effectively offering up a first choice, a second choice, and so on. Those backup picks only come into play if no candidate cracks a majority of votes on the first ballot: that sparks what is essentially an instant runoff election, in which the lowest-performing candidates drop and their supporters’ second choices receive their votes.Maine Republicans loathe this system and have fought it tooth-and-nail since voters in the state approved its use for federal elections in 2016. But an ongoing legal effort to overturn the system is losing steam, and time, with the November election fast approaching. As Maine emerges as a pivotal battleground for control of the U.S. Senate—and even for the White House—a powerful ally of President Donald Trump has weighed in, joining local Republicans in laying the groundwork for a broader assault on Maine’s wonky voting system.Earlier this month, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson devoted an entire segment to the evils of ranked choice voting, declaring that Maine Democrats were “trying to rig the outcome” of the 2020 election through the system. His guest was Dale Crafts, GOP nominee for U.S. House in Maine’s 2nd District. That particular seat, which swung hard to Trump in 2016, is the source of many Republicans’ ranked-choice grief. In 2018, former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin had a 2,000-vote lead over Democrat Jared Golden but failed to get a majority on the initial ballot. Under the rules of ranked choice voting, the third-party candidates dropped and Golden cleaned up as the second choice among their supporters, ultimately giving him a majority. Poliquin went to court to contend that he was the rightful winner, but Golden’s victory was upheld. Crafts, who is now running against Golden, told Carlson that Poliquin’s loss revealed the true purpose of ranked choice voting. “It’s just another sham by the Democrats to try to steal races,” warned Crafts. Ironically, ranked choice will play no part in the election of Carlson’s guest—Crafts and Golden are the only candidates on the House ballot in Maine’s 2nd this year—but the system figures to be a huge influence on Collins’ race. It could be that the biggest complicating factor for the longtime senator’s re-election bid is not her relationship to President Donald Trump, or her famous stand for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but the way her state has decided to elect its leaders.Joining Collins and Gideon on the U.S. Senate ballot in Maine are Savage and Max Linn, a longshot conservative independent candidate who, during the first candidate debate last week, went viral as he plowed past moderator questions and declared “I have to be out of the box tonight.” If no candidate clears 50 percent and Savage, who is running as a “Senator for People, Planet, and Peace,” is dropped in the third round, her supporters could easily put Gideon over the top. Savage’s campaign has openly encouraged its supporters to rank Gideon second—they tout a “VoteBlueNumberTwo” social media slogan—and Savage herself says she plans to do the same. Susan Collins Cast the Crucial Vote for Brett Kavanaugh. His Biggest Backers Returned the Favor.There are many ways to game out the ranked choice system, and Maine political observers caution that in this independent-minded state, elections don’t always shake out intuitively. “Both major party campaigns are thinking about this,” says Mark Brewer, a professor of politics at the University of Maine in Orono. “My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that Savage will have more support than Max Linn.”Some in Maine GOP circles believe in Collins’ ability to pull out the victory, but they also don’t have a hard time seeing how the environment around the ranked choice system could throw yet another headwind her way.“It could be a real problem for Collins,” says Eric Lusk, a longtime Republican activist who formerly served as GOP chair for Maine’s largest county. He said there’s a risk that Linn’s supporters might just rank him first and leave it at that. “He’d siphon 2-3 points, people get confused on ranked choice, they don't put Collins second, Linn gets knocked out, but the voter didn’t put in choices two, three, four… It could happen.”The way that Mainers adapt to ranked choice voting—only in its second cycle of use for federal elections here—could have impacts that reverberate far beyond the state. The Maine race is one of three or four toss-up races nationally that could tip control of the Senate to Democrats, or keep it in GOP hands. But it’s not just Collins who could suffer as a result of the way the system plays out this year; Trump could, too. Maine, as Carlson noted in his Fox segment, is one of two states that awards its electoral votes by congressional district. In a tight Electoral College race, even the swingy 2nd District’s lone electoral vote could make a big difference for Trump, or for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, both of whom are targeting the district. All recent public polls of the 2nd show Trump and Biden neck-and-neck with neither clearing 50 percent; multiple third-party candidates are on the ballot with them, including Green and Libertarian nominees.Ranked choice voting, say the system’s backers, doesn’t inherently advantage a Democratic or Republican candidate, since it depends on who’s in the race and how it’s run. They argue the system puts an end to the idea of spoiler candidates and forces candidates to campaign to win real majorities, not narrow pluralities. It has been used for state and local elections nationwide, including in Maine, for a decade or longer, and Maine voters have upheld its usage in two different ballot referendums. But Maine Republicans see things differently—“horseshit” was Lusk’s preferred adjective for the ranked choice system—and they’ve been fighting to repeal it since it was instituted for federal elections in 2016. Before 2020, conservatives elsewhere have dismissed ranked choice voting as a bad idea that’s inconsistent with the “one person, one vote” principle. Currently, a Republican-led legal effort is underway to block it from being used in Maine’s presidential election, but the effort hit a snag last week; with absentee ballots set to be mailed out to voters within weeks, time is running out to change the procedures.Proponents of ranked choice voting have argued that GOP opposition to the system stems from sour grapes over the Poliquin race and perhaps a tacit acknowledgement of their limitations in securing majorities in Maine, which leans Democratic overall. Rob Richie, president and CEO of the nonprofit group FairVote, which advocates for ranked choice voting, told The Daily Beast it’s ridiculous to equate “asking a person to win a majority” with “trying to steal an election.” Compared to some Maine Republicans, Collins herself has been circumspect on the ranked choice issue. In 2018, she said the system can produce an “odd outcome” if a candidate with the most votes after one round does not win. But the GOP’s official opposition to ranked choice may present a challenge: their voters have grown to hate the system, but their candidates‚ from Trump and Collins on down, need to leverage it to win.“It definitely adds another layer of complexity, because the Democrat Party has focused on educating people how to manage the controls, where on the Republican side, the effort has been more on getting rid of the change in the voting system,” said Lusk. “So the Democrats embrace it, and they educate people on how it functions. Do that over four, five, six years, and you’re going to be in a position to have a few thousand more people understand it on your side, and a few thousand fewer on the other side.”That difference, said Lusk, could be Gideon’s margin of victory. A longtime Maine political operative, speaking anonymously to describe the race candidly, said that Collins’ team consists of seasoned strategists who understand clearly the challenges posed.“Considering that what a campaign has to do is not turn off the supporters of the ‘fringe’ candidates, my guess is they understand that as well as anybody,” said the operative. “If I were running either the Gideon or Collins campaigns, I would make an effort to do some subtle outreach to supporters of the other two candidates.”In response to questions from The Daily Beast, the Collins and Gideon campaigns did not directly say whether or not they were reaching out to other candidates’ supporters to urge them to rank their candidates second. “We believe when voters look at who is running in this race, there is one clear choice,” said Annie Clark, a spokesperson for Collins’ campaign. “Our goal is to ensure that Senator Collins is the winner, which is why we’re encouraging voters to choose her as their first choice.”“Our campaign is focused on making sure that Maine people know Sara Gideon is the best candidate to replace Susan Collins in the Senate,” said a spokesperson for Gideon, who added GOP attacks on ranked choice voting are a “transparent political maneuver” and that Mainers have supported the system. Savage, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast by email that ranked-choice has been “core” to her campaign’s messaging. “We don't even really say, ‘vote for Lisa,’” said Savage. “We say ‘Rank Lisa first.’”“We have spent a great deal of time and effort educating voters about how RCV changes political races—we refer to it as a ‘new politics,’” Savage said. “There is still a lot of education to be done, as many voters still don't understand exactly how it works, and will talk about ‘spoilers’ and ‘splitting the vote’ as reasons they don't want to support me. That's a huge opportunity for us, as learning about how RCV actually works makes them think about the race anew.”To third-party candidates like Savage, ranked choice presents a totally fresh way to campaign. For others, the broader upside of ranked choice voting has been limited.For all the controversy, cable news vitriol and months of legal deadlock that Maine’s ranked choice system has sparked, the system has failed to live up to supporters’ arguments that it would fundamentally reshape campaigns in a more positive way, argued the veteran Maine operative. But, they said, that doesn’t mean Republican hatred of the system is justified. “I don’t understand why Republicans have such vitriol toward it, other than the fact that they think it was a Democratic idea,” said the operative. “And I don’t know why Democrats are so enthusiastic about it, because it really hasn’t brought to fruition the things they sold us about it… I guess each party has dug in because they want to oppose what the other guys are doing.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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How China Brought Almost 200 Million Students Back
by NYT > Education
Sep 14, 2020
“We’re also rounding up thought-provoking ideas about Covid-era education, and bringing you the latest local updates for K-12 and college.”
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Analysis: Why Biden's national lead matters
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 14, 2020
“Poll of the week: A new Monmouth University poll finds that former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 51% to 44% lead over President Donald Trump among likely voters. Among registered voters, it's Biden 51% to 42% for Trump.”
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Trump's 'socialism' label appears to be hurting non-socialist Joe Biden in key swing states
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 14, 2020
“Democratic primary voters chose Joe Biden over Sen. Bernie Sanders, but that hasn't stopped President Trump from warning about Biden's socialist takeover of America. The line, comical to left, appears to be working in the Rust Belt and among some key Latino voters. "I get WhatsApp videos from every single person I know calling Democrats socialists," South Florida Democratic political consultant Evelyn Perez-Verdia told Politico, attributing the texts to "massive disinformation campaign in Spanish in Florida."Trump's "framing of the campaign as an existential fight against creeping socialism in America is rallying voters" in "small Rust Belt towns in Southwestern and Northeastern Pennsylvania," Julia Terruso reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer. She focuses her report on a town of 1,000 called Norvelt — named after Eleanor Roosevelt — that was built by the government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. "The community was so collaborative that a local newspaper once described it as 'communism on the prairie,'" Terruso writes. Now it is a Trump stronghold."Strictly speaking, socialism is a theory of societal organization in which a community shares ownership of goods and regulations," Terruso notes. "Colloquially, the word socialism is thrown around as a stand-in for many things. ... Asked about Biden, voters here were quick to bring up Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)."Today's Norvalt residents think of their parents and grandparents as "hardworking" bootstrappers who "needed assistance" but "didn't need a handout," Tim Kelly, chairman of the history department at St. Vincent College in nearby Latrobe, told the Inquirer. "And I think that's a stand-in for racism today. ... In my experience hardworking is a stand-in for white in Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania.""I really don't think most people are racist," countered the Rev. David Greer, pastor of Norvelt Union Church. "There's this fear that we're going to work hard and pay all the taxes for illegal immigrants to come in and not work as hard and get the same benefits, same schooling," he said, adding, "We don't want our houses burned down.""We're not vicious people," said Jim Novotny, a third-generation Norvelt resident. "We just want to keep what's ours. We just want to keep the country the way it is." Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer.More stories from theweek.com Cousins of man killed in accident involving South Dakota's AG share concerns over investigation Court-tapped judge-advocate tears into Barr's 'corrupt and politically motivated' move to drop Flynn case Biden campaign unveils high-powered legal war room”
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2 Killed, 6 Injured in Shooting Near Rutgers University
by NYT > Education
Sep 13, 2020
“Video obtained by The New York Times shows four men arriving at the scene in a car and shooting into the area.”
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2 killed, 6 seriously injured in New Jersey shooting near Rutgers University campus
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 13, 2020
“The shooting, which took place in New Brunswick near the Rutgers University campus, has no affiliation with the school or its students, police said.”
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Two people are dead and multiple injured after 'several shots' were fired near Rutgers University campus
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 13, 2020
“Local and campus authorities are investigating a shooting that occurred on Sunday morning at a party near Rutgers University in New Jersey.”
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Ohio college students were cited after hosting a house party despite testing positive for Covid-19
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 12, 2020
“Six students at Miami University in Ohio were cited for violating a city ordinance on mass gatherings after they held a house party despite at least one of them testing positive for Covid-19, according to police records.”
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MSU students asked to self-quarantine after Covid-19 outbreak
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 12, 2020
“Health officials on Saturday asked Michigan State University students to self-quarantine immediately after parties contributed to 342 new coronavarius cases.”
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Analysis: Electoral comeback for Trump?
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 12, 2020
“With 53 days left before voters decide his political fate, there were stirrings Thursday that suggest the political freefall President Donald Trump has been in for months has not only ended, but that the Electoral College landscape may be starting to move back in his direction, ever so slightly.”
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Professor who used racial slur in class is put on leave
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 12, 2020
“"I want to thank students for using their voices to share the troubling and disturbing language that was used by your professor in class," a university official wrote to students.”
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College apologizes for segregated 'virtual cafes'
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 12, 2020
“University of Michigan-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso apologized on Wednesday after the university's Center for Social Justice and Inclusion hosted two segregated virtual conversations about race and society, with one of them meant for "Non-POC."”
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Felicia Campbell, Professor Who Studied Gambling and Pop Culture, Dies at 89
by NYT > Education
Sep 12, 2020
“Ms. Campbell was the longest-serving professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She died of complications of the novel coronavirus.”
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Wildfires are striking closer and closer to cities. We know how this will end
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 12, 2020
“The climate crisis is a factor, but so are efforts to fight fires - which have had the opposite effect We call them wildfires, but that might not be the right word any more.In recent days, at least five whole towns have been destroyed by fire in Oregon. So has much of Malden, Washington, and swathes of Big Creek and Berry Creek, both in California.To many people this will seem like deja vu. In 2018, another town was also wiped off the map, in the most dramatic recent example of this horrible genre. Paradise, California, was much larger, home to 27,000, and it was destroyed in just a few hours. Eighty-five people were killed.The places now being ravaged are not forests or chaparral located somewhere out there, in the wilds. Instead the current wildfires demonstrate how easy it has become for fires to invade our suburbs and towns, with their 7-11s, gas stations and doctors’ offices, and lay them to waste. Where will this end? The prospects are disturbing.To understand how we got here, it is important to know that we have come to expect control over such conflagrations relatively recently. Prior to European settlement in the West, fire flowed freely, sparked by lightning or intentionally by Native Americans to encourage the growth of favored plants or clear areas for easier hunting. As much as 4.5m acres of California’s 105m acres might burn every year. These low-intensity fires did not kill large trees, and some plants even came to depend on fire to regenerate themselves. A shrub called chamise appears to encourage fire by releasing combustible gases in the presence of flames.The shift to a different approach occurred after several instances in which wildfires became appalling urban fires. In October 1871, railway workers sparked a brush fire in northern Wisconsin, which swept into the city of Peshtigo and killed 1,500 people there and elsewhere across a gargantuan footprint of 1.2 million acres. And in the great fires of 1910, fires burning across several Western states killed hundreds and razed a number of towns. People escaped by train as the fires virtually licked at their heels.After this the US sought to suppress all wildfires before they could gain a foothold. In the 1930s, the US Forest Service instituted its so-called 10am policy, according to which fires had to be stamped out by that time the next day. Later came the “10-acre policy”, dictating that fires should not be permitted to grow beyond that size. Fire was the enemy, an idea catalyzed by wartime imagery of firebombed cities such as Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo. Smokey Bear helped to reinforce it, too.This strategy had a pronounced effect – though not necessarily in ways that were intended. Fire activity decreased, it is true, but with scouring flames removed from the environment, forests grew far denser and brushier than they had been before. In one Arizona forest, 20 trees per acre became 800 trees per acre. These forests can and will burn more severely. In addition the climate crisis is rendering vegetation ever drier, and by 2050 up to three times more acreage in Western forests will burn as a result of global warming. Meanwhile 60m homes can now be found in or close to high-risk areas where wildfires have previously burned.Cue urban fires. The fire that obliterated Paradise on the morning of November 8, 2018 was sparked in a rural river canyon several miles to the east of town. As we describe in our new book, Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy, it approached the community at speeds previously thought impossible, chewing through almost 400 American football fields’ worth of vegetation per minute. It hit like a hurricane. Strikingly, many of the hundreds of thousands of trees in the town were spared – it was the homes that became matches setting fire to the next. The fire was so quick, so hot, that people died seeking shelter under their cars, in the driveways of their homes while holding a hose, or huddled in their bathtub.Lincoln Bramwell, the chief historian of the US Forest Service, told us that the story of Paradise “reads like these accounts from the late 19th century”, of fires like Peshtigo, back before we had sought to bring wildfire under our command. “I see us going back to the future,” he added. “Going back to a time when fire was not under our control.”As Americans in California, Washington and Oregon are discovering, wildfires do not only impact the wilderness. Towns and suburbs are not inviolate. With so many of our Western paradises now under threat, experts are begging us to bring controlled fire back into the ecosystem in the form of prescribed burns. To ensure buildings meet stringent fire codes. And to prepare city evacuation plans so we do not repeat the gridlock in which many of those escaping Paradise were trapped. We must, it almost goes without saying, get a handle on the climate crisis.Witnessing the urban fire in Paradise, some of those we interviewed for our book no longer thought it fanciful that a fire that could maraud into the very heart of a major city, such as Los Angeles, San Diego or the communities of the San Francisco Bay.University of California scientist Faith Kearns recounted to us that she lives in the Berkeley flatlands, in a part of the Bay that is as thoroughly urbanized as can be. Suddenly she was considering the prospect that a fire might one day reach her home.“My neighborhood is full of Victorians. My neighbor’s window is about six feet away from my own…” she said, pausing in thought. “I think we’ll see it. I think we’ll see it.” * Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano are the authors of Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy, available from WW Norton. Read an excerpt here”
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Tucker Carlson Calls Climate Change ‘Systemic Racism in the Sky’
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Sep 11, 2020
“In a segment on the raging West Coast wildfires, Fox News host Tucker Carlson tried to make the baffling argument that Democratic leaders’ warnings about climate change are “like systemic racism in the sky.” He extended the bizarre metaphor, lamenting that there was supposedly no explanation for how climate change causes more wildfires (there is!) and mocking Democrats for not explaining science to him: “You can’t see it, but rest assured, it’s everywhere, and it’s deadly. Like systemic racism, it is your fault. The American middle class did it. They caused climate change. They ate too many hamburgers. They drove too many SUVs. They had too many children.” > Tucker Carlson argues that climate change is like "systemic racism in the sky" in that it doesn't exist but liberals want you to believe its there. pic.twitter.com/dMaZ1QOtqy> > — nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) September 12, 2020Carlson’s show is part of the primetime Fox News lineup that makes up the most-watched television in America, averaging 3.5 million viewers per night alongside Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, according to Nielsen Media Research.Scientists agree the rising average year-round temperatures brought about by human activity are causing more fires along the West Coast. Climate change, specifically drought spanning multiple years, has accelerated the rate at which wildfires appear and their intensity, according to a joint report released earlier this year by scientists from Columbia University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Idaho. The blazes in Washington, Oregon, and California have collectively already burned more than four million acres—three million in California and one million in Oregon—the most of any recorded fire season in either state. Experts say the West’s yearly wrestling match with wildfire is just beginning. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has warned residents that the peak of the conflagration is yet to come, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown told Oregonians to prepare for what “could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history.” More than 100,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes in Oregon, and at least five have died. In California, 20 people have died from the fires. > This is hands down the most concussed defense of climate change denial I've ever heard: "A climate change denier is anyone who thinks the ruling class has done a poor job" pic.twitter.com/61NgsHaxCN> > — nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) September 12, 2020Speaking before an image of Newsom, Carlson defended climate change denial as a matter of political power and wealth rather than one of science.“What is a climate change denier? A climate change denier is anyone who thinks the ruling class has done a very poor job running their state, running their country, or protecting the people they were hired to protect and watch over,” he said. “So are we climate change deniers if we point out that the state of California has failed to implement meaningful deforestation that might have dramatically slowed the spread of these wildfires? Does that make us deniers?”Carlson willfully misunderstands forest management in the same way President Donald Trump does. Both have blamed the state, run by a Democratic governor, for inadequate forest management, but the California government manages less than 3 percent of the state’s forested land. The federal government, by contrast, oversees over half of all California’s forested acres. Despite the imbalance, Trump has threatened to withhold disaster funding from California over the fires.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.”
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Poll shows widespread support for vote by mail
by CNN.com - RSS Channel - HP Hero
Sep 11, 2020
“Almost three quarters of Americans (73%) supported allowing any eligible citizen to vote by mail this fall despite months of President Donald Trump's attacks on universal mail-in voting, according to a poll from the Washington Post and University of Maryland.”
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Officials monitoring executive order on diversity trainings
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 12, 2020
“Officials said they are “very closely” monitoring a recent executive order from President Donald Trump to end the use of diversity and inclusion training in federal agencies.
Caroline Laguerre-Brown, the vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement, said at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday that she feels “very strongly” that the work of her office does not “run afoul” of the executive order. She said officials are not “making any plans” to pause GW’s diversity training but said GW is not currently part of a lawsuit to oppose the new rules.
“Our programming is always geared toward raising awareness, providing information, giving people strategies to operationalize the things that they care about, that they value here as an institution,” she said.
James Tielsch, a faculty senator and a professor of global health, said GW is “obviously” at risk in light of the executive order because the University has “lots” of federal grants and contracts.
“I hope our risk profile is not affected, but I think it’s important that a university like ours makes a statement about this,” he said. “And I don’t mean just a statement about this. I mean actively participate in opposing this kind of action, legally.”
Laguerre-Brown said officials are reviewing the materials from the University’s diversity and inclusion trainings to verify that none of it conflicts with the executive order.
“We’re just going to continue to monitor very closely and continue to do the work that we’re doing that we think the community wants us to do in the interim,” she said.
Laguerre-Brown said officials asked her to provide a report to the senate on GW’s diversity and inclusion resources to follow up on the resolution passed by the senate in July on diversity and inclusion, in addition to the “broader context” of the global movement for racial justice. She outlined anti-racist and anti-bias resources for faculty and described the bias incident reporting process and live unconscious bias trainings for faculty the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement offers.
“There’s been a lot of conversation on the campus and a lot of interest in some of the work that we do in the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement,” she said.
Laguerre-Brown said officials have received 59 bias reports from the bias incident reporting website this year, and about 130 reports have been filed since the site went live last year.
Provost Brian Blake said he has been working with students, deans and faculty senators to make a decision about whether officials should implement the optional Pass/No Pass policy for undergraduate courses and Credit/No Credit policy for graduate courses this semester. He said he hopes to make a final decision “this coming week.”
Officials said earlier this month that the majority of undergraduate and graduate students support adopting pass/fail or Credit/No Credit policies this fall, and half of all undergraduates and a third of all graduate students took  at least one class as pass/fail or Credit/No Credit. Officials said if the pass/fail policy were to be implemented this fall, the parameters of the option would need to change from its implementation last semester.
Senators also passed a resolution voicing “severe disapproval” for University President Thomas LeBlanc’s hiring of Heather Swain, who was involved in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, by a 33-3 vote.
Officials also  announced that the upcoming spring semester would be fully online. They said all undergraduate courses and “most” graduate programs will be conducted online this spring, with an  extension of the 10 percent tuition reduction to undergraduate students who do not live on campus.
LeBlanc said officials have administered more than 17,000 COVID-19 tests and have received 29 positive cases so far this semester, which he said translates to a “very low” positivity rate.
He said about 3,000 students are living off campus in the District, and officials have expanded testing for those students if they are exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms. LeBlanc said the expansion provides officials with insight into the number of positive COVID-19 cases from off-campus students in addition to providing students with “quick” test results.
He said officials are increasing communications with the student body and the GW community about following public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are sending reminders for students to get a flu shot this year.
“Especially as we head into colder weather and we’re spending more time indoors, we will be continuing to reinforce these messages, especially with our on campus community, and we’ll be paying attention to adherence to all of our health protocols,” he said.
GW Police Department Chief James Tate said in a presentation at the meeting that he plans to release the department’s first-ever racial profiling report March 21 and start limiting officers’ presence in low-crime areas to hold officers accountable and ensure campus remains a safe place for the GW community.
“We are public servants,” Tate said. “We are not warriors. And what I mean by that is, for some, if they were ever in this mindset that it’s us against them, that has to go. That’s not what we’re about. We’re here to serve our public, we’re here to keep everyone safe and most importantly, we’re here to make sure we are a resource for our students, staff and faculty.”
Senators also confirmed 10 representatives from the Student Association to various senate committees by unanimous consent.”

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GWPD to adopt more reform measures, chief says
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 12, 2020
“Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 10:41 a.m.
The GW Police Department is formalizing plans to prevent racial profiling and increase transparency on campus, as the University’s police chief continues his push to amend GWPD’s relationship with students.
GWPD Chief James Tate said at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday that he plans to release the department’s first-ever racial profiling report March 21 and start limiting officers’ presence in low-crime areas to hold officers accountable and ensure campus remains a safe place for the GW community. Tate also revealed plans to reform the police force’s entry-level requirements with an improved police academy curriculum and a hiring process that includes physical and written assessments and a panel interview process with students, staff and faculty.
Tate presented GWPD’s “priorities and initiatives,” which have so far been highlighted this year through reforms  like a training program, body-worn and in-car cameras and plans to hire a community outreach officer.
Tate’s strides to enhance the community’s trust in GWPD follows an incident in which an officer was placed on administrative leave after he allegedly pushed a student protester down a set of stairs outside University President Thomas LeBlanc’s on-campus residence. Officials  laid out reform measures a month later, but the Black Student Union wrote a letter to GWPD amid anti-racism protests over the summer, reigniting calls for police reform on campus, across D.C. and throughout the country.
“We are public servants,” Tate said at the meeting. “We are not warriors. And what I mean by that is, for some, if they were ever in this mindset that it’s us against them, that has to go. That’s not what we’re about. We’re here to serve our public, we’re here to keep everyone safe and most importantly, we’re here to make sure we are a resource for our students, staff and faculty.”
Tate said the racial profiling report would collect data from pedestrian stops to identify the ethnicity of those who are stopped, whether officers launched a search of the person and vehicle and whether officers acquired consent to do so. The report will display annual findings and will be posted on GWPD’s website , Tate said.
“Most police agencies across the country, they submit a racial profiling report to their governing body every year, and so here at the PD we will implement a policy that strictly prohibits racial profiling, and we’ll produce a report that captures data that we believe the community will find helpful,” Tate said.
Tate said he also plans to publish a statistical overview report, which will be released Jan. 21, to share with the community the number of “internal affairs investigations,” arrests and annual service calls that the department logs.
Tate said instead of intimidating students with law enforcement around campus, he wants students to feel comfortable when they see an officer so they can recognize the face of the officer rather than the uniform.
Tate said he wants to expand GWPD’s abilities to launch their own criminal investigations, often handled by the Metropolitan Police Department, to minimize the role of MPD on campus.
“I also want to make sure that we’re not engaging in what I call over-policing – having uniformed officers in places where there’s not a lot of law enforcement activity,” Tate said. “Therefore, we really don’t need a police officer there, particularly because it comes across as being intimidating to our students or anyone else.”
Tate also outlined plans to sharpen the department’s entry-level requirements – from the curriculum of the department’s police academy to the current hiring process standards, saying GWPD is “not in line with best practice across the country.” GWPD officers currently can be hired after passing a psychological test and a “medical/physical,” but he said the department should implement physical and written exams.
Tate said new officers would also be required to sit before a panel made up of officers, staff, students and potentially faculty members depending on “the level” of their position. He said students have been included in the interviewing stages of the hiring process at other institutions, but GWPD has failed to adopt the measure in previous years.
Tate said he’s preparing to hire a student who can act as a liaison between GWPD and other students, as well as fill the community outreach officer position with an officer currently serving on the force who will run social media accounts, coordinate with student organizations and plan events.
“We can’t give ourselves trust and legitimacy,” Tate said. “Those two things have to be conferred on us by the community that we serve, and that’s the only way we can really be a successful police department is to have those two.”
This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GWPD’s racial profiling report would collect information from traffic stops. It will collect information from pedestrian stops. We regret this error.”

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Essay: Working at an Amazon warehouse during the pandemic
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 12, 2020
“When COVID-19 decisively changed everyone’s plans for the summer, students invariably had to make new ones. Some students took virtual internships, while others took road trips. I took a job at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, where I packed single items into boxes about 1,000 times a day.
College students, especially GW students, often view Amazon warehouses as Rube Goldberg machines of human suffering. Yet this was not my experience. I worked reasonable hours at reasonable pay: 10 hours a day, four days a week at $15 an hour, in a state where the median wage is $ 16.73 . The temperature inside the warehouse rarely exceeded the mid-70s even when the temperature outside reached 100, and I got to read books while I worked. And a few other aspects of the job didn’t align with the exposés and news reports with dramatic headlines.
Contrary to some  stories , our bathroom breaks were not monitored. We were also encouraged to stay hydrated, and management handed out water bottles to this end. I was never reprimanded, warned or even looked at for going to the bathroom or getting water. On the contrary, I was generally encouraged to do so as needed.
Also contrary to some news  reports , there were no algorithms that fired people for efficiency or pushed people to  injury.  My trainer told me on my first day to not worry about the rate I packed boxes. He explained that I had plenty of time to get adjusted to the job, and if management took issue with my rate, they would send packing coaches and send many more warnings before they even gave me a documented write up, and that I probably wasn’t going to get a notification in the first place. He was correct. In my two months there I was never reprimanded for my rate, and I never heard of anyone else being fired for failing to meet a quota. For the most part, if you showed up to work on time you weren’t getting fired. Even when I began to saunter into work with 50 pages of reading material, no one really cared. There were auditors that went around and made sure you were doing everything correctly, safely and made sure you weren’t being super slow, but these were designed to be more helpful than disciplinary.
I also began work late May, just when Amazon  rolled back  the $17.5/hour and double overtime that started during the pandemic. By then they had figured out a decent policy for navigating COVID-19. Workers were required to wear masks, our temperature was scanned when we entered the building, workstations were socially distanced and regularly disinfected and workers were encouraged to stay home if they felt seek and generally given financial incentive and the time off to do so. This strategy seemed to work for at least my first month and a half there, particularly for a state that was a coronavirus  hotspot  at that time. Amazon notifies workers when someone who works at the plant contracts COVID-19. I received none of those notifications until about my last three weeks. By the time I left, I had received around nine notifications that people had contracted the virus, although those cases seemed to be getting more frequent when I left. Amazon sends an additional notification to people who were in close contact with people who tested positive, but I received none of those notifications.
I should emphasize one particular part of the job: I never felt Amazon the corporation cared about me or recognized my humanity. Then again, I never thought it was supposed to. It was supposed to pay me, train me to be safe, approve time off and overtime when I requested it and otherwise leave me alone to read and pack boxes. In exchange, I packed boxes in a quality and speed in accordance to their general demand. This was all the recognition as a human being that I needed from Amazon the corporation. The recognition of one’s humanity that almost everyone needs in some form in a job did not come from the corporation, nor should it. It came from fellow employees who treated me and others with politeness and kindness and managers who treated me with respect and tried to learn my name. Contrary to the  advertising , I did not feel like family, or, for that matter, an “associate” – a vaguely Orwellian term Amazon uses in place of “employee.” I felt like an employee, a human one, who interacted with other human employees. Although it probably works in their favor, Amazon didn’t design this environment, it just sort of happened as a result of individuals being kind to each other and recognizing their shared humanity.
At any rate, my time working at Amazon was a generally positive experience. I got paid well, worked in a safe and relatively comfortable environment and gathered a deeper understanding for how Amazon delivers its packages. It was not particularly enjoyable work, but it would be the epitome of privilege to say I was suffering or to make the laughable  comparison  to resistance fighters. My experiences overall starkly contrasted with most of the news stories and exposés would have you believe – probably due to a combination of exaggerated articles and the progress that Amazon has made in improving conditions of its workers.
 
Sam Swinson, a sophomore majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.”

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The Hatchet named finalists for three college journalism awards
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 10, 2020
“The Associated College Press selected The Hatchet as finalists for best online college newspaper , reporter of the year and sports game story of the year .
The Hatchet is one of 55 online student newspapers chosen as finalists in the online Pacemaker competition, ACP announced Friday. The work considered for the award is from The Hatchet’s 116th volume.
Zach Schonfeld, The Hatchet’s administration editor, is one of 20 student journalists in the running for reporter of the year. Judges considered his stories: “ Police, protesters clash during second night of demonstrations in D.C. ,” “ How GW coordinates its pandemic response ” and “ LeBlanc apologizes for ‘insensitive’ analogy amid backlash from SA, divestment activists .”
Sports editor Emily Maise is one of 10 reporters named finalists for sports game story of the year. ACP considered her story, “ Richmond stunts men’s basketball’s two-game win streak .”
Winners in all categories will be announced virtually Oct. 22 at the Fall National College Media Convention .”

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Faculty Senate voices 'severe disapproval' for Swain hiring
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 09, 2020
“Updated: Oct. 10 at 11:00 a.m.
The Faculty Senate voted Friday to express “severe disapproval” of University President Thomas LeBlanc’s hiring of Heather Swain, who rescinded her job offer after widespread criticism over her role in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.
The senate’s appointment, salary and promotion policies committee recommended the senate censure LeBlanc following a private meeting with him about the matter on Sept. 25, but some senators voiced concerns about a censure damaging the potential for future shared governance. The senate voted 20-13 to remove the mention of censure, which was followed by a 33-3 vote approving the amended resolution.
The senate said LeBlanc violated the “core principles” of GW and endorsed his proposed vetting process for future vice presidential hires.
“It gives me no pleasure to introduce this resolution, but we have to do what we have to do,” Murli Gupta, the chair of the ASPP committee, said at the meeting.
LeBlanc announced Swain as GW’s vice president of marketing and communications on Aug. 12, but within days of the announcement, hundreds signed petitions condemning the hiring. Investigators said in a 2018 report that Swain helped Michigan State University engage in a “culture of anti-transparency” during the Nassar investigation through her role in MSU’s communications office.
Swain told a trustee to copy Michigan State’s legal counsel on an email to other trustees in order to “maintain privilege” even though the email did not seek legal advice, the report states.
Moments before the senate began debating the resolution, LeBlanc left the virtual meeting and asked Provost Brian Blake to chair the remainder of the meeting. LeBlanc also signed off from the senate’s September meeting before senators discussed the original censure resolution and decided to refer it to the ASPP committee.
LeBlanc did not immediately return a request for comment through a spokesperson.
The Board of Trustees said in a statement that LeBlanc met all of the requests in the original censure resolution and committed to a new process to “strengthen” the involvement of faculty in future vice presidential hires.
“The trustees and the administration will continue listening to and working closely with the Faculty Senate as we move forward together,” the Board said.
Blake said he had “strong feelings” about the resolution that would put him in a “compromising position” to chair the proceedings and delegated his responsibility to Arthur Wilson, the senate’s executive committee chair. Blake logged off from the virtual meeting during the discussion.
Arthur Wilson, the faculty senate executive committee chair, said trustees did not want faculty to censure LeBlanc, preferring that senators voice strong disapproval of the hiring instead.
Wilson said maintaining a dialogue with trustees and administrators, rather than voting to censure, will enable senators to advocate for faculty more successfully.
“My sense is the issue here is transparency,” Wilson said. “The administration is not particularly transparent nor are the trustees. As long as we have that hierarchy, the University would not be as successful as it could be. We need to make sure shared governance is working.”
Sylvia Marotta-Walters, a faculty senator and the former senate executive committee chair, said the senate made it clear that LeBlanc’s hiring of Swain was wrong at its September meeting, and a formal censure would only impair the senate’s ability to practice shared governance with administrators in the future.
“Justice was served in September when we uniformly said this was an egregious act,” Marotta-Walters, who voiced support for the amended resolution, said at the meeting. “Now it’s time to make peace.”
Miriam Galston, a faculty senator and an associate professor of law, said she supported the censure resolution in September but opposed doing so now because LeBlanc provided a full accounting of the Swain hiring process and proposed changes for administrators to vet candidates in the future.
“Shared governance means not only that they listen to us, but we listen to them,” Galston said. “In this situation where we have gotten the two things we requested, I don’t see what productive purpose passing this censure serves.”
Charles Garris, a faculty senator and a former senate executive committee chair, said Swain didn’t do “anything wrong,” and the University community has been perpetuating false narratives about Swain’s involvement with Nassar.
“I believe resolution 21/13 is a disgrace for supporting this kind of demonization of an innocent person and will damage our credibility as the senate,” Garris said.
But some senators cautioned against watering down the censure resolution, arguing it would set a bad precedent.
Jamie Cohen-Cole, a faculty senator and an associate professor of American studies, referenced LeBlanc’s comments in January 2019 saying that leaders are often not held accountable for their behavior. Administrators identified inconsistent leadership as one of four top culture issues at GW following an employee survey conducted by the Disney Institute.
Cohen-Cole said the ASPP committee made their recommendation based on additional information from the private meeting that other senators do not have, so the senators should follow the suggestion.
The senate met last month to consider censuring LeBlanc for the hiring and recommitted the resolution to the ASPP committee to seek a “full and complete” accounting of the Swain hiring process before a final vote over concerns about LeBlanc’s legal ability to share hiring details publicly.
“A vote against this measure is a vote by members of the senate that their judgement in the absence of data that ASPP members had is better than what ASPP had,” he said. “You would move to put your judgement without data ahead of what your peers did with data.”
Shaista Khilji, a faculty senator and a professor of human and organizational learning, said the GW community is “hurting.” She supported maintaining a formal censure but added LeBlanc should be allowed to learn from his mistake.
“I would like to move on and allow him to show it was a mistake,” Khilji said. “The senate is a place where we can respectfully disagree with each other and allow him to show he has learned.”
Hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni have signed petitions and statements calling on LeBlanc to resign in recent months, with many citing the Swain hiring in their rationale.
The ASPP committee also endorsed LeBlanc’s proposed vetting procedure following the September private meeting.
The procedure includes creating an internal search committee to aid an outside search firm and a “trusted third party” to vet candidates through press and social media searches, criminal and civil case searches, and reference checks.
The University president will personally contact the last two presidents or leaders for whom all finalist candidates worked before making an offer, the procedure states.”

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Classes to remain online for spring semester
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 09, 2020
“Students will continue taking most courses online for the spring semester.
Officials announced at a Faculty Senate meeting and in an email to the University community Friday afternoon that all undergraduate courses and “most” graduate programs will be conducted online this spring. Administrators will continue providing a 10 percent tuition reduction to Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon undergraduate students who do not live on campus.
“Managing this pandemic has called on us all to do our part to keep the community healthy and safe, and to support one another through these difficult decisions,” officials said in the email. “We again want to thank you for your understanding and patience as we make adjustments for the spring and ensure we continue to fulfill our core academic mission together.”
At the senate meeting, University President Thomas LeBlanc said the decision was made as a result of the “unlikelihood” of material change in the spread of the virus during the next several months and a need for students to have definitive information to prepare for the semester.
He said members of the GW community staying on campus in the spring will need to undergo the University’s safety protocols — which include weekly testing and social distancing — and reserve access to GW buildings.
“When I say being virtual in the spring, I mean essentially it will look a lot like it looks right now,” LeBlanc said at the meeting.
He added that administrators consulted with the senate’s executive committee, Student Association leadership and the Board of Trustees and heard a consensus to continue virtual instruction for the spring semester.
Officials began meeting about the spring last month and said a campus presence would be likely “limited.”
Administrators said most undergraduate students’ financial aid packages will remain the same unless they change their enrollment or residential living statuses.
“We remain committed to ensuring that students’ out-of-pocket university costs are equal to or less than an on-campus residential experience,” officials said in the announcement.
Administrators also said they do not anticipate holding Commencement on the National Mall or on campus next May and will provide more information about virtual commencement plans soon.
Officials said the decision will not change GW’s estimated annual budget gap, which is expected to reach $160 million.”

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SA Senate asks executive branch to apologize on deleted Instagram post
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 08, 2020
“The Student Association Senate passed a resolution late Monday night urging the SA executive branch to apologize for sharing an Instagram post that supports one side of an ongoing foreign war.
The SA reposted, then deleted hours later, an infographic from the GW Armenian Students Association Sunday that indicated support for Armenia, which is embroiled in an ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan. SA Sen. Kate Carpenter, U-at-Large and the sponsor of the resolution, said SA leaders wrongly inserted the organization into a geopolitical issue by sharing the post and asking for students to donate to Armenian war efforts.
The resolution passed by a vote of 17-4, with one abstention.
Carpenter said “several” of her peers notified her and fellow senators of the post and asked that SA leaders apologize for placing themselves in a two-sided issue.
“A friend that is Azerbaijani had their brother deployed yesterday to the front lines, literally yesterday, and then this post came right after their brother was deployed,” Carpenter said. “That is frankly so telling, to see your school and Student Association that is supposed to represent you, literally support the other side of a conflict – whatever side you agree with, it’s fine but just to see that happen as that student hurts.”
SA Sen. Megan Freeman, GSEHD-G, said she will work with other senators to create a social media style guide to avoid posting about problems that the entire SA does not back.
“There is still further action to follow up with a guide, with another resolution that directly confronts the executive team’s continual inability to post correctly – we will just leave it at that,” Freeman said.
Brookins said he apologizes and takes the blame on behalf of the executive branch for the sharing of the post. He said he wanted to show support to members of the Armenian Students Association, but he recognizes that the SA should not weigh in on “rapidly developing, current situations.”
“It’s a tough decision to be in, to try to support them but also stay out of an issue,” he said.
SA senators also approved Yan Xu, a freshman in the Elliot School of International Affairs and now member of the finance committee; Jack Bloom, a freshman in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences now serving on the academic affairs committee; and Charlene Richards, a political science and journalism major now serving on the student life committee, as first-year undergraduate senators. Senators also confirmed James Setterland into a CCAS graduate senator position and Lindsey Clos into a graduate-at-large seat.”

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Law school alumna mistakenly disciplined for no-contact order
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 08, 2020
“The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. conducted an investigation into the University’s Title IX disciplinary measures related to a case involving a GW Law alumna, DCist reported late last month.
Dorea Batté, a law school alumna from the Class of 2019, filed a mutual no-contact order with the University’s Title IX Office against a classmate who had been “harassing” her with unwanted text messages and phone calls in 2018, according to DCist. But when Batté applied for the D.C. bar in January, she learned that her order showed up as a disciplinary action against her in the D.C. Court of Appeals, which oversees admissions to the bar, DCist reported.
“It really worried me,” Batté told DCist. “It was starting to get stressful as to what the bar would believe or take into consideration because GW’s supposed to be a very reputable school.”
When Batté reached out to the University, an administrator stood by her bar report and told Batté that she was free to “provide whatever explanation you believe to be appropriate to the D.C. Bar,” according to the D.C. ACLU .  Batté told DCist she asked the D.C. chapter of the ACLU in April to convince the University to write to the bar clarifying the no-contact order was not a “disciplinary” action.
After being contacted by the ACLU, Elizabeth Ewert, the law school’s associate dean of students, wrote a letter to the bar explaining that Batté requested the mutual no-contact order, DCist reported. Ewert had originally signed a legal form in January certifying Batté graduated from GW and checked a box indicating that she violated the law school honor code or was disciplined by the University, according to the ACLU .
Ewert had attached a copy of the no-contact order barring Batté from contacting the classmate who allegedly harassed her at first with no further explanation, DCist said. ACLU representatives said they asked GW to reform the reporting process to prevent future students from suffering “adverse” consequences for future no-contact orders filed, but the school would not commit.
The U.S. Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations enacted in May claim mutual no-contact orders are a supportive measure that may be used as an accommodation that does not punish the respondent involved, according to the ACLU.
“But if schools use mutual no-contact orders to punish the complaining student, it will not only fail as an accommodation; it will also chill complainants from reporting harassment at all,” the ACLU said in an article on their website.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal told DCist the University is “glad to hear that this student reported that her individual concern was resolved.” Nosal declined to comment further on the case because she said the University cannot discuss issues involving individual students.
She said officials do not consider no-contact orders as punishment and is no longer reporting them to state bars.
“Mutual no-contact orders are not disciplinary actions, they are not reported to third parties as disciplinary actions and they are not listed as a sanction on University conduct records,” Nosal said in the DCist article.”

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Leading performing arts groups through remote semester
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Sidney Lee | Graphics Editor
On this week’s episode of “What’s New Buff and Blue,” podcast host Sarah Sachs speaks with Professor Michael Schmitz and Director of Choral Activities Anthony Blake Clarke about how University Band and University Singers are adapting to a virtual platform.
“What’s New Buff and Blue” is hosted by Sarah Sachs. This podcast is produced by Gwyn Wheeler. Music is produced by Gwyn Wheeler. Special thanks to Michael Schmitz and Anthony Blake Clarke.”

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Officials set new date for 2020 Faculty Assembly meeting
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Officials have set Nov. 18 as the new date for the virtual Faculty Assembly meeting after postponing it from this Wednesday.
University President Thomas LeBlanc and Arthur Wilson, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s executive committee, said in a statement last week that since the meeting must be held virtually this year, officials needed more time to ensure that any votes taken during the meeting are “fair, complete and transparent.” Officials initially set this year’s meeting for Oct. 7 last winter before any COVID-19 restrictions were put into place, according to the website.
“Senate leadership and staff are working hard with IT personnel and the administration to identify and test reliable solutions that can allow a virtual assembly,” the website states.
Tracking COVID-19
Stay up to date on GW, D.C. news related to the virus. READ MORE”

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Milken has received $2 million in grants since the pandemic's start
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Researchers in the Milken Institute School of Public Health have received more than $2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund COVID-19 research throughout the pandemic.
Since the start of the health crisis, Milken researchers have been using grants they’ve received to develop at-home COVID-19 tests and launch clinical trials for a potential vaccine. Milken officials said the school’s public health researchers engage in a variety of disciplines, like epidemiology and biostatistics, that play a role in the solutions to the pandemic.
Adnan Hyder, the senior associate dean for research at the public health school, said in addition to the funding already received from the NIH, “millions more” applications for federal funding are under review. He added that several institutes within the school have directed their existing resources to support COVID-19 research.
“In many cases, COVID-19 research aims to better understand the virus, the way it is spread, how it triggers severe illness and how we can prevent it,” Hyder said in an email. “The goal of such research ultimately is to prevent adverse health effects from this virus.”
Using funds allocated to the public health school, researchers have invested time in a variety of public health issues regarding the pandemic, like investigating the connection between COVID-19 mortality and obesity and administering a health care worker survey about experiences responding to the pandemic.
GW has also set aside an internal fund for research that offered researchers grants between $5,000 and $25,000, which they could apply to between April 17 and June 1. The proposals were subject to an unusually quick approval process and an eight-page limit, according to the University’s research website .
Lynn Goldman, the dean of the public health school, said Milken officials have been evaluating research proposals to determine how many resources they need to conduct their work.
“As public health researchers, we broadly frame our work around all phases of pandemic preparedness response – identifying actions to protect health prior to, during and in the period of recovery from a pandemic or any other disaster,” she said in an email. “We look broadly at many factors, including biological, social, behavioral and environmental, that can be important in preventing diseases like COVID-19.”
Goldman said Milken’s Office of Research Excellence tracks potential research projects and notifies faculty of any project that may be a good fit for them. She said the most successful opportunities for researchers have been when they can use research to better understand the pandemic and apply knowledge to address a specific problem.
“For example, some projects aim to better understand a disease like COVID-19 or pave the way for a treatment or vaccine,” she said. “Others aim to address a problem, such as the lack of personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers.”
Academic research experts said many universities have accelerated their research proposal processes to prioritize addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Despite universities’ larger budget cuts, they said academic research teams have remained largely unaffected by cutbacks, given that direct research funding has primarily come from government institutions.
Moshe Levi, the interim dean for research at Georgetown University, said Georgetown had an expedited application process for internal funding and received 30 proposals for research within a week after they notified faculty of the fund.
Levi said because funding from government institutions is already set in stone, university layoffs and funding cuts for faculty are the only factors that might financially inhibit research.
Officials have laid off hundreds of staff members to alleviate financial stress brought on by the pandemic, but officials have not discussed laying off tenured or tenure-track faculty. GW faces a $160 million budget shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year.
“If you have unfunded faculty – the university gives you money for travel, to go to scientific meetings, for this or that – that’s affected, but otherwise, research in most universities is really funded by external grants, not internal grants, including George Washington,” Levi said.
Levi said Georgetown’s COVID-19 research has not come at the expense of other areas of research at least for now. He said if research-funding institutions like the NIH do not see increases in their budgets, funding for COVID-19 research will eventually cut into opportunities for research in other fields.
The NIH rushed to award $3.6 billion that the agency received from Congress in grants to academic researchers, Science Magazine reported in June.
“Within NIH or other funding agencies, sometimes they put money into COVID-19 research, and if their overall budget does not increase, that comes at the expense of other areas, which is really dangerous,” Levi said.
Meredeth Cole, the communications manager for the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia, said UVA’s grant proposal process has also been accelerated to more rapidly address COVID-19. She said UVA has awarded nearly $3 million in grants in a significantly more “rapid” manner than the typical funding process.
“Seeing problems and coming up with solutions, and not in a way that’s ‘How much money can we make off of this?’ but ‘How can we share with others?’” she said. “And I think the generosity between academics has been tremendous during the pandemic.”
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Unequal access to resources cause COVID-19 disparities: experts
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“The majority-White area around GW has sustained one of the lowest coronavirus death rates among D.C.’s neighborhoods, especially compared to other areas of the city that are majority Black.
The city’s coronavirus case data show that three-quarters of people who have died from COVID-19 have been Black, despite making up just less than half of the city’s population. District officials and public health experts said the pandemic is unequally hitting marginalized communities because they face disproportionate access to essential services, like health care and education.
“It’s not an easy thing when you think about all of the realities that poor people face simply because they are poor, economically poor,” At-large D.C. Council member David Grosso said. “This is not easily solvable. The COVID emergency has actually kind of ripped off the band-aid and shown us all what the reality is for so many of our poor residents.”
Ilena Peng | Contributing Web Developer
The majority of cases are concentrated in the northeastern, southeastern and southwestern parts of the city, where Black residents make up half or more of the population. Black residents constitute just over half of total positive COVID-19 cases in the District, and Hispanic residents comprise about a quarter of city-wide cases, according to the District’s COVID-19 website .
Ward 2’s 1,000 positive cases are the second-lowest number of positive cases of any ward, just below Ward 3, which logged 770 cases as of Sunday, according to the website. Foggy Bottom has tracked about 100 positive cases as of Sunday, placing the neighborhood in the bottom 10 neighborhoods in terms of positive coronavirus cases, the data show.
Ward 4 has been hit the hardest with COVID-19 cases, logging almost 3,000 positive cases as of Sunday, according to the website. Wards 5, 7 and 8 recorded just more than 2,000 cases each by Sunday, the website indicates.
Grosso said Black and Latino residents tend to work in essential services, like health care and food service, which have remained open throughout the pandemic. He said city officials have directed resources, like personal protective equipment and small business support, to essential workers in the city.
He added that many residents of color live in high density housing units, like apartments and public housing, that could lead to an increased risk of coming in contact with the virus.
“They have to show up to work, and they are our grocery line workers and working in our hospitals and other places where they couldn’t actually isolate themselves away from the virus like our more affluent White residents who tend to have more office jobs too,” Grosso said.
He said marginalized communities experience disproportionate access to transportation and grocery stores, another reason why the virus has hit those communities particularly hard.
He said government officials have taken strides to mitigate these disparities by prohibiting evictions and offering support for businesses who have been hurt financially amid the pandemic.
“We’ve provided more and more and more personal protective equipment, the PPE, for essential workers in the city,” Grosso said. “We’ve also tried to keep businesses from closing by supporting them. We’ve also prohibited evictions.”
The Council passed a complete eviction ban late last month, preventing landlords from ending rent agreements.
Grosso said some marginalized communities tend to lack trust in the health care system, which he said could be a result of not having the educational resources to navigate the system. He said city officials have publicized public health information through emails, newsletters and social media platforms, but it’s still an uphill battle to build trust and connect residents with a primary care physician.
“We also know that the education of folks has been something that we have not fully accomplished, and there’s huge disparities in our achievements at education and that lack of education,” Grosso said.
Alison Reeves, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Health, said Mayor Muriel Bowser is working on private sector partnerships, like a new Howard University hospital and a GW-run hospital at the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Southeast D.C., which aim to improve equity throughout the District.
“The District continues to be forward-looking, leveraging public investments in partnership with the private sector that will support major investments over the next five years,” Reeves said in an email.
Public health experts said racism is deeply rooted in public health issues throughout the United States and government officials should take strides to address the issue when devising solutions to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cities like Milwaukee and New York have seen similar racial disparities in their coronavirus case data, according to a New York Times report from this summer. The same report revealed that nationwide, Black and Latino residents are three times more likely to contract the virus than White residents.
Tyan Dominguez, a clinical professor of social work at the University of Southern California, said marginalized communities tend to lack trust in the health care system because they have historically lacked access to health care and faced disparities in quality of care based on race.
“These are systemic issues, it’s not a silver bullet solution and it’s not something that is going to be fixable overnight,” Dominguez said. “It’s a multi-pronged issue from the longstanding history, and I think it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach and consistency in what responses are within the system.”
Camara Jones, the former president of the American Public Health Association, said the national response to the pandemic has been focused on medical care, when pandemic response officials should treat it as a public health issue.
She said paid sick leave, a universal basic income and a living minimum wage would help mitigate disparities in public health outcomes. She said investing in housing, green spaces and schools for communities of color would also help reduce public health disparities.
“There’s no basis in the human genome for racial subspeciation,” Jones said. “We know it’s not a gene, but it’s not even our choices.”
Nicholas Anastacio contributed reporting.
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TAs adjust teaching techniques for remote classes
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Teaching assistants are experimenting with platforms like WebEx and Blackboard Collaborate to keep their students engaged with lessons during the remote semester.
Half a dozen teaching assistants who have worked as instructors in past semesters said they have “completely” readjusted their approach to teaching to help students learn and stay engaged while conducting sessions entirely virtual. TAs said they miss having personal interactions with their students and are struggling to maintain a healthy “work-life balance” because of the extra assistance their students need to navigate their classes virtually.
Second-year graduate student Marianna Fotakos, a TA for Sociocultural Anthropology, said she has had difficulty separating her TA responsibilities from her personal life and struggles to set boundaries with students who contact her outside of office hours.
She said she finds herself tuned into her computer answering students’ emails nearly “every hour,” adding that her in-person teaching was more engaging and she could dedicate more time to answering questions.
“We’re all in this together,” Fotakos said. “So I think that there’s a lot of understanding on everyone’s part with each other, trying to understand and be compassionate, because I think everyone’s struggling with it. It’s not just students – it’s everyone. It’s a big learning curve.”
Fotakos said she separates her students into breakout groups on WebEx during discussion sections and encourages them to communicate with each other and form study circles. She said other TAs in the anthropology department have implemented similar strategies to ease the teachers’ workload outside of teaching hours.
“We want to be there, we want to support you, we want to answer your questions, but we also have to take a step back and realize that we don’t have to be available all the time,” she said.
Senior Abigail Sepich, a TA for Introduction to International Business, said her role as a TA has become more “administrative” because her discussion section is strictly for review of the material taught in class. She said when she was a TA last semester, she was actively involved in lectures by taking attendance, recording students’ participation and answering questions.
Now that her section is not mandatory to attend, Sepich said her tasks are focused on setting up online sessions and helping students with technical issues.
Sepich said she doesn’t mind her new role but said she is not a “tech expert” and feels less qualified to help students with technical issues than the course material itself. She said administrators offered courses for TAs on navigating Blackboard Collaborate Ultra throughout the summer, but it covered the platform’s basics, which she had already learned.
“Before I would say it was a lot more of a teaching role,” Sepich said. “Now, it’s a lot more like being an administrative assistant.”
Second-year graduate student Christiaan Bedrij-Arpa, a TA for Introduction to International Politics, said students attending his discussions ask more “technical” questions relating to terms mentioned in the textbook or in the professor’s pre-recorded lectures since they are unable to ask questions in class. He said he’s been working closely with the course’s professor to ensure the section runs smoothly and every student is following the course.
He said international students in his class watch his recorded discussion section and then email a written response to an assigned question about a discussion topic.
“Those are the students that I’ve had primarily email me with other questions, and I’ll just get back to them with detailed email responses if they have any questions or offer to meet with them, but so far, it’s been going smoothly,” Bedrij-Arpa said.
He said the course’s professor is requiring students to participate in each discussion section to receive full participation credit so students are engaged in his section. He said the policy incentivizes students to ask questions, but students may be participating more because they can’t talk to the professor directly.
“Now, somebody always has a question – we run past the end of class,” Bedrij-Arpa said. “Everybody is always inquisitive about things, but it’s different topics. It’s more basic questions.”
Third-year graduate student Michael Kaplan, a TA for Foundations of Anthropological Thought, said he wishes there was better communication between administrators and TAs about the University’s Zoom licensing restrictions and whether TAs have access to their own premium account. He said he doesn’t know if TAs have the same access to Zoom as professors so he has been using Blackboard Collaborate to hold his discussion sessions.
Kaplan said Collaborate only allows him to see a few students’ faces, which makes it harder to gauge if students are engaged and paying attention. He said he is still “unfamiliar” with many of the students in his discussion sections because he is unable to see their faces.
“It’s hard to feel like you’re speaking into a void when you can’t see anyone,” Kaplan said.
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Half of undergraduates used spring pass/fail policy: officials
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Officials said just more than half of all undergraduates and nearly a third of all graduate students took at least one class last semester as Pass/No Pass or Credit/No Credit.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said 50.8 percent of undergraduate students and 31.2 percent of graduate students took at least one class as pass/fail or Credit/No Credit. She said 96 percent of courses taken pass/fail by undergraduates resulted in course grades of “P” and 87.6 percent of courses taken Credit/No Credit by graduate students resulted in course grades of “CR.”
Officials announced in March that undergraduates would be able to take “most” classes as pass/fail after moving all classes to an online format. GW Law officials also moved all classes to the Credit/No Credit format last semester, and Nosal said officials from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences continued to assign letter grades.
Nosal said the remainder of students who did not receive a pass or credit grade who requested to take a class as pass/fail or Credit/No Credit received a “combination” of no pass grades, incompletes and withdrawals.
“In spring 2020, students were afforded the opportunity to see their grades and then pick-and-choose which, if any, grades to replace with a P or NP,” she said in an email. “In addition, the criteria for making the dean’s list was relaxed for spring 2020.”
She said officials saw a “sharp increase” in the number of students who were eligible for the dean’s list last semester, which she said was a result of changes like the pass/fail and Credit/No Credit option and a more “relaxed” criteria to opt in to the pass/fail policy.
“Along with these changes, we saw a sharp increase in the number of students eligible for making the dean’s list in spring 2020 with prior semesters,” she said. “We had fewer full-time students, but a larger percentage of them were dean’s list-eligible in spring 2020.”
She said 47.4 percent of students made the Dean’s List in spring 2020 compared to 25.9 percent in spring 2019. From fall 2018 to fall 2019, the percentage of students who made the Dean’s List increased by 0.8 percentage points, she said.
Provost Brian Blake sent out a survey to undergraduates and graduate students two weeks ago for feedback on whether officials should implement the policy again this semester, and officials said the majority of undergraduate and graduate students support adopting pass/fail and Credit/No credit policies this fall.
“There is agreement among the provost, deans and faculty that faculty should continue to be mindful of the continuing difficulties presented by the coronavirus, taking care to be flexible, supportive and understanding in working with students who want to remove a grade, request additional time to satisfy course requirements or take a leave of absence,” Nosal said.
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Crime log: Man spotted urinating in University Yard
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 04, 2020
“Threats to do Bodily Harm
Public Property On Campus (2100 Block of G Street)
9/26/2020 – 11:45 a.m.
Open Case
A male student reported that an unknown male subject threatened to beat him at the intersection before leaving in his vehicle. GW Police Department officers canvassed the areas with negative findings.
– Case open.
Theft II/From Building
Mitchell Hall (7-Eleven)
9/26/2020 – 12:02 p.m.
Open Case
GWPD officers responded to a report of theft in 7-Eleven. Upon arrival, officers contacted a female complainant who reported that two unknown men stole a case of water and a bag of ice. Officers canvassed the area with negative findings.
– Case open.
Destruction of Property/Vandalism
Public Property On Campus (900 Block of 23rd Street)
9/26/2020 – 8:38 p.m.
Closed Case
GWPD officers responded to a report of a trash can fire. When officers arrived at the scene, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responders had already extinguished the fire. Officials later discovered that the fire was set intentionally by an unknown subject. Shortly after, GWPD officers arrested a male subject. Metropolitan Police Department officers arrived on scene and transported the subject to the Second District police station.
– Subject arrested.
Simple Assault (Domestic Violence), Destruction of Property/Vandalism
Off Campus
Unknown – Unknown
Closed Case
A female faculty member reported that a female student had her laptop destroyed and might be experiencing domestic violence. The faculty member stated the student did not want to file a police report.
– Referred to the Title IX Office.
Urinating or Defecating in Public
University Yard
9/28/2020 – 3:06 p.m.
Open Case
An anonymous female complainant reported that an unknown male subject had exposed his genitals and urinated in public.
– Case open.
Theft II/From Building
The Shops at 2000 Penn (CVS Pharmacy)
10/3/2020 – 4:45 p.m.
Open Case
A female complainant reported that an unknown suspect entered the store, grabbed two bottles of dish soap and two bottles of Febreze off the shelf and placed the items in a bag. The suspect then left the store without paying and fled in an unknown direction.
– Case open.
– Compiled by Kateryna Stepaneko.”

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SA Senate demands LeBlanc's resignation
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 02, 2020
“The Student Association Senate passed a resolution calling for University President Thomas LeBlanc’s “immediate” resignation at a special meeting Wednesday.
The resolution, which passed 26-1-0, presses officials to choose a replacement for LeBlanc through a committee of students, faculty and staff. Senators cited more than 20 instances that pushed them to demand LeBlanc’s resignation, including the hiring of Heather Swain, plans to cut undergraduate enrollment and LeBlanc’s use of a racially insensitive remark.
The legislation includes endorsements from more than 35 organizations, like the Faculty Association and GW College Democrats, which have made their own calls for LeBlanc to step down in recent months. 
SA President Howard Brookins was the latest student leader to ask for LeBlanc’s resignation in an executive order last week, sparking criticism from senators who said they should have been looped in on the order.
SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U and a sponsor of the legislation, said students have felt “humiliated, ashamed and disappointed” in GW, and a lack of support for staff and faculty amid ongoing layoffs prompted the senate to draft the legislation.
“Now this begs the question: why are students so unhappy?” Young said. “Students – those who engage in academic activities are mostly involved in academia as that’s their stakeholder position. Those who engage with students are faculty, in other words, faculty are now unhappy and are influencing students.”
Senators also passed a resolution rejecting a part of Brookins’ executive order that asks for staff, faculty and students to cut off donations to GW. Senators requested that Brookins release another executive order that specifies members of the GW community should cease donations to the President’s Fund for Excellence – finances under the discretion of the GW president – until LeBlanc is no longer in office.
SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and a sponsor of the resolution, said funds that are donated to GW go toward areas like scholarships, the GW Cares Fund and campus food pantries. He said the language of the order should be changed because Brookins’ original no-donation pledge would take money away from students, not LeBlanc or other top officials.
“A blanket ‘no-donation pledge’ does not hurt the University’s wallet – it hurts students,” he said. “When members of the GW community donate, they aren’t giving the University a blank check.”
Brookins said he spoke with many student organization leaders and students who all expressed “intense disapproval” of LeBlanc, but the Board of Trustees ultimately has the power to oust LeBlanc. He said University finances are a top priority for the Board, and though the pledge could potentially impact student resources, the pledge would ultimately pressure trustees to act.
“Of course, public pressure through this legislation, the media and general student organization is essential, but the only way we can level the playing field and change the governance of the school is by demonstrating that students, staff and faculty are the lifeblood of this University,” Brookins said.
Senators also heard from seven candidates to fill vacancies in the School of Nursing, School of Engineering and Applied Science and Milken Institute School of Public Health.
The senate also approved Antonio Navarello to represent the School of Nursing, Megan Freeman as the representative for the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Mustafa Emin Oktay as a representative for the engineering school. Caroline Fuss and Connor Hounshell were also voted in as Milken representatives.
David Brothers contributed reporting.”

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Athletic department cuts staff, prepares for upcoming seasons
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 29, 2020
“The sports that members of the GW community knew before the COVID-19 pandemic are “gone,” Student-Athlete Advisory Council President Lauren Bennett said.
All spring and fall sports have been halted , and the athletic department needed to make cuts of its own – including slashes to seven teams, a pay reduction and scaled back travel budgets. As the pandemic dragged into the fall and social unrest swept the United States, athletic officials began to formulate a return plan for student-athletes and implement a slew of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“We are having to move forward, and move forward better now, while trying to stay as safe as possible,” said Bennett, who rows for the women’s program.
Some student-athletes have returned to Foggy Bottom and abide by safety protocols, while others have stayed home to train solo or with a nearby club team. The men’s and women’s basketball programs are also gearing up for a delayed season start, which Athletic Director Tanya Vogel said will resemble a slow but steady return to practice and the possibility of playing in front of fans.
Department cuts staff, shrinks budgets
Vogel said she needed to lay off “some” employees and decrease operating and administrative budgets to account for financial loss brought on by the pandemic. The department’s proposed plan to expand the Smith Center and replace the pool with a practice basketball court has been paused along with the suspension of other capital projects.
Vogel took a pay reduction along with other top officials, but the rest of the athletic department did not face pay cuts, she said. She declined to say how much of a pay reduction she took.
Programs’ operating budgets were decreased “25 to 35 percent,” Vogel said. She said the department cut back on teams’ travel budgets and nixed the training table, which provided breakfast to athletes every morning.
The Atlantic 10 regionalized fall sports’ regular season and championship schedules amid the pandemic, and the modifications will remain when fall sports compete in the spring.
“We really approached it that way, knowing that travel makes up a large percentage of what we do,” Vogel said. “That was the area I felt like we could make the biggest impact.”
The department announced July 31 it would eliminate seven programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Vogel called that Friday a “horribly difficult day for GW athletics,” saying the department had been considering reductions “long before” she arrived at GW.
She added that a 27-program department outsized market basket schools, and the conversation about cutting the teams became “more active” in the last year and a half. Officials said in the summer that the pandemic sped up plans to slim down the department.
“A lot of analysis pointed to us being smaller, to look more like some of the schools that were winning championships across the board,” she said.
Vogel said the University weighed criteria like Division I and Atlantic 10 sponsorship, donation and engagement and how much investment a program would need to compete at a higher level.
In response to the cuts, Bennett said SAAC created Team FORWARD, a committee made up of SAAC members, Vogel and a representative from each of the seven eliminated programs. The committee will act as a space for student-athletes to air their thoughts and learn about mental health resources, options to transfer to another school and resources about converting to a club program, Bennett said.
Vogel, SAAC work toward racial equality
Vogel said conversations about racial equality spawned in March after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and have prompted officials to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force and increase focus on diversity in recruiting practices.
She said the Smith Center will also receive updates to honor the Black Lives Matter movement, but the additions have not been revealed yet. Student-athletes are also forming the Black Student-Athlete Alliance, led by head women’s tennis coach Torrie Browning and Administrative Associate Shatara Stokes, to discuss improving inclusivity in the department, she said.
“My commitment to our staff and our students is that we’re going to continue to have conversations and work to make real actionable change,” Vogel said.
Vogel said the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force existed for about a year, but it was recently revamped to include events and a film series highlighting the push for racial equity.
Vogel added that she mandated a six-week-long diversity and unconscious bias training – an idea sparked by conversations with women’s basketball assistant coach Ganiyat Adeduntan.
“It was the right place to start,” Vogel said. “We’re also working with some guest speakers that can come in and talk with our coaches about things that are sports-specific areas of the country, i.e. schools, clubs, et cetera, to make sure that we’re casting the widest net.”
Bennett added that SAAC partnered with Athletes United for Social Justice, an offshoot of the Grassroots Project that aims to educate student-athletes and involve them in local social justice initiatives.
Department prepares for winter, spring seasons
Vogel said the department established committees to plan each team’s return to athletics and competition. The groups will help transition athletes and coaches back into practice and set up protocols for programs to follow, she said.
During the first weeks of the return to athletics plan, Vogel said student-athletes’ training hours are limited, and masks and social distancing are required. The plan will then progress to zero-contact training that includes small group workouts before student-athletes can partake in scrimmages or full team practices, Vogel said.
Bennett said she cannot take her mask off until her boat has been pushed off the dock and floated into the Potomac. She added that small practice bubbles are strictly maintained.
Vogel added that not all student-athletes are on campus, but the athletes in Foggy Bottom receive a weekly COVID-19 test and must complete daily health checks to participate in team activities.
She added that the upcoming basketball season, the first athletic events since March, will look differently as a result of the pandemic. With the basketball season set to start Nov. 25, Vogel said the Colonials may begin the season in an empty arena depending on the latest guidance from D.C. health officials.
She added that the Smith Center, which seats 5,000 people, has ample room to accommodate social distancing if D.C. allows fans to attend sporting events.
“Right now, the District does not allow fans,” Vogel said. “It is possible that we’ll play in the Smith Center without fans. Our hope is that we can continue to move in a direction where we can safely have people back inside Smith Center.””

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Everyone should sign the SA's no-donate pledge
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 29, 2020
“A flurry of statements, bad press and protests have escalated calls for University President Thomas LeBlanc’s resignation. And this week brought a new form of protest: a pledge from the Student Association president asking people not to donate to GW until LeBlanc is replaced.
The pledge is part of SA President Howard Brookins’ executive order calling for LeBlanc to leave his post. It implores students, faculty and alumni to withhold donations from GW until LeBlanc is ousted and “shared governance is implemented” among staff, faculty and the student body. Hundreds of people and groups – including The Hatchet Editorial Board – have been asking for LeBlanc to step down for months now. This pledge could be an even more effective way of actualizing those demands because it hits GW where it hurts – its wallet.
We could begin to make some headway in much-needed changes at the University if every member of the GW community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – sign the pledge. We must sign on to ensure new leadership and a greater voice at the top.
“Students very often do not have a say in the happenings of the University, but signing this pledge can change that. Students, alumni, staff and faculty must take advantage of the SA’s protest and join the pledge.”
These criticisms are getting old, but let’s rehash the series of missteps throughout LeBlanc’s three-year tenure at GW. LeBlanc lost the trust of students and faculty through his hiring of a string of former colleagues at the University of Miami, a racially insensitive comment , plans to cut enrollment while increasing funding to STEM programs at the cost of the humanities and recent layoffs and disdain for student activism. There is near-unanimity among the GW community that he should step aside – but even in the face of opposition, LeBlanc has refused to even answer questions about whether or not he will step down. This pledge goes beyond just words, which is a necessary step given LeBlanc’s refusal to hear what students are saying.
This pledge could have substantive effects – taking a financial angle is a key tactic of effective protest. Lack of donations can negatively impact GW’s rankings in U.S. News and World Report and The Wall Street Journal, which are tentpoles of the University’s prestige and pitch to prospective students. During a financially stressful time amid a pandemic, the University also cannot afford to lose donations. The prospect of further financial woes is a nightmare for administrators and could feasibly force them to accede to student demands for new leadership.
While protests and statements signed by dozens of student organizations and faculty did not sway LeBlanc and the Board of Trustees into considering new leadership, the prospect of reducing GW’s appeal to potential students would be a jolt – and rightly so. A pledge is a commitment to action, not just words on a page or people holding signs. A pledge to not donate to the University until things change demonstrates commitment and impacts the University where it matters most – its wallet. It won’t be effective unless students, faculty, staff and alumni sign on.
Aside from placing financial pressure on the University, this pledge is also beneficial to the SA. Brookins, the organization’s president, is demonstrating his message to the entire University community – and that carries a lot of weight. Not only was Brookins voted into office to represent all students at the University, but he is the only student member on the Board. And he decided to strike while the iron is hot – the Board is set to convene next week and Brookins has an opportunity to express students’ and faculty’s frustration toward GW leadership.
Students very often do not have a say in the happenings of the University, but signing this pledge can change that. Students, alumni, staff and faculty must take advantage of the SA’s protest and join the pledge.”

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Officials rule out employee salary cut
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 25, 2020
“Faculty and staff will not receive salary reductions as part of budget cuts following weeks of deliberations by top administrators.
University President Thomas LeBlanc said officials are no longer considering “across-the-board” salary cuts for faculty and staff to close the remainder of GW’s annual budget gap, which has now been reduced from $180 million to $160 million, according to an email sent to faculty and staff Thursday. Officials have already announced $100 million in cuts during the first phase of financial mitigation and will close the remaining $60 million through reducing non-recurring expenses and using some of the University’s unrestricted assets.
“I especially want to thank the Faculty Senate and its committees for the hundreds of hours of thoughtful and deliberative consultation with leadership to navigate the challenges,” LeBlanc said in the email. “And to all of our faculty and staff, I remain grateful for your dedication to GW and for your resilience, your patience and your understanding, as we have worked together to prioritize health, safety, care and our core academic mission.”
LeBlanc said at a senate meeting earlier this month that officials had discussed an employee salary cut but had not made a final decision. The Faculty Association condemned a future salary cut last month.
Officials will use “up to” $20 million of GW’s unrestricted assets to help close the budget gap, LeBlanc said in the email. Deans and unit leadership will identify reductions in non-recurring expenses to fully eliminate the remaining deficit, he said.
“Although the pandemic and its effects on our University have been very fluid, members of University leadership and I feel confident that the totality of the actions taken and announced will now address our current financial challenges,” LeBlanc said. “To be clear: Barring a significant change in the pandemic and its impact, we believe that these final steps will conclude our budget mitigation for this fiscal year.”
Officials suspended most capital projects and hirings, froze all salaries with an additional pay cut by some top administrators and laid off hundreds of staff during the first phase of budget cuts, which reduced expenses by $100 million.
LeBlanc said these actions will be completed “in the coming weeks.” He said at the senate meeting earlier this month the first phase would be completed by Friday.
Some of these decisions have led hundreds of faculty, staff and students to sign onto statements and petitions condemning officials’ financial mitigation strategy, with some calling on LeBlanc to resign.
LeBlanc said he is “hopeful” the suspension of the University’s retirement contributions for employees, which will begin Oct. 1, may be shorter in duration if GW experiences a “robust” spring enrollment, and administrators will provide an update in December.
“Every member of our community can help in this regard by giving our students the highest quality experience this semester,” LeBlanc said. “I have heard from many students about the positive experience they are having so far, and I want to thank each of you for your work to make the fall virtual term a success.”
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'Getting to the Bottom of It': Addressing off-campus parties
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 22, 2020
“On this week’s episode of “Getting to the Bottom of It,” podcast host Alec Rich speaks with Executive Director of the American Public Health Association Georges Benjamin, President of the American Association of Colleges and Universities Lynn Pasquerella and Peter Lake, the Director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University about students breaking public health guidelines on large gatherings.
“Getting to the Bottom of It” is hosted by Alec Rich. This podcast is produced by Gwyn Wheeler. Music is produced by Aulx Studio . Special thanks to Georges Benjamin, Lynn Pasquerella and Peter Lake.”

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Colleges should not blame their students for COVID-19 outbreaks
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 20, 2020
“College students have been put through hell for the last six months. They’ve been ripped away from their school friends, needed to readjust to living and studying at home and are constantly worried about an uncertain future. And some college students have unfortunately tacked one more issue onto the list – being scapegoated for COVID-19 outbreaks on campuses.
Northeastern University recently made news for the draconian way it disciplined students who were caught hanging out maskless in a residence hall. Not only were the students expelled, but the university refused to return any of their nearly $40,000 in tuition for the semester. Students and parents were rightly aghast . But this episode is only one example of a troubling trend of colleges blaming their students for COVID-19 outbreaks that should have been administrators’ job to prevent. Solely relying on students’ willpower to prevent outbreaks on campuses is naive – and if colleges aren’t willing to confront the reality of in-person education during a pandemic, then they should follow GW’s lead and keep campuses closed until it is over.
Colleges that have reopened campuses – even in a limited capacity – risk causing virus outbreaks. The chief solution that some universities – including Northeastern, apparently – have come up with is to place the onus on students to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. And if students break the rules, their university hangs them out to dry and heaps scorn on the student body for being reckless and selfish. Other schools like Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh have suspended students for partying, but Northeastern’s response was unique in its severity.
The simple reality of pandemic-era college education is that students are going to gather if given the chance. Students watched the lives they had built at college collapse as the pandemic brought the world to its knees. Most then spent six months in their childhood homes, with the best substitute for social interaction being a grainy Zoom image on their laptop screen. Not to mention they have watched their government fail to fight the virus in a way that prevents death and economic disarray. After enduring the unendurable for half a year, there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that students will try and claw back any semblance of normalcy they can if campuses reopen. When nearly half of young people are presenting signs of anxiety or depression because of the stress and isolation of the pandemic, reuniting with their friends is not a capricious luxury – it is a survival instinct.
To be fair, it would be foolhardy and wrong to merely suggest that students who violate mask mandates and flaunt social distancing rules are justified in doing so. Plenty of rule-breaking can be chalked up to sheer foolishness – like fraternities covering up COVID-19 diagnoses or holding parties. But that is not the point – the point is that relying on the threat of punishment is a cynical, naive and ineffectual way to prevent college students from congregating. Colleges need to have empathy and realize that college students will walk over broken glass right now if it means human contact – and they should shape policy accordingly. And if there is no safe way for students to gather and spend time together safely, then campuses simply should not reopen. GW made that agonizing decision – administrators put the health and well-being of students first and foremost. Even though bringing the student body back to Foggy Bottom would have been the smartest choice for the University’s tanking budget, the risks of an outbreak were too high to justify that course of action. More colleges should make that same calculation and follow the path GW has taken.
It is on everybody – including college students – to be responsible citizens and comply with pandemic-era restrictions. But slip-ups are inevitable for those experiencing unfathomable stress and loneliness. If colleges are going to blame their students and take their tuition money instead of figuring out ways to make campus living safe, then campuses should not open in person at all this academic year.
Andrew Sugrue, a junior majoring in political communication, is the contributing opinions editor.”

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Crime log: MPD arrests man for picking flowers at GW Hospital
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 20, 2020
“Theft II/All Other Larceny
CVS Pharmacy (The Shops at 2000 Penn)
9/14/2020 – 6:30 a.m.
Open Case
The reporting person stated that an unknown subject entered the store and approached the bathing products before looking around and grabbing several large CVS shopping bags from behind the counter. The subject returned to the bathing products and filled the bags with 50 Dial soap dispensers, initially valued at $250, before exiting the store without paying.
– Open case.
Shoplifting
Mitchell Hall (7-Eleven)
9/14/2020 – 4:22 p.m.
Closed Case
A female complainant reported a male subject was shoplifting. GWPD officers responded to the scene and apprehended the man who said he had shoplifted hygienic items. Officers gathered the stolen items, which were actually Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and a Coke, and returned them to the store clerk. Officers barred the man and escorted him from the store.
– Subject barred.
Theft II/From Building
CVS Pharmacy (The Shops at 2000 Penn)
9/14/2020 – 7:14 p.m.
Open Case
The reporting person stated an unknown subject entered the store and stole five laundry items worth a total of $82.50.
– Open case.
Destruction of Property Less Than $1000
GW Hospital
9/18/2020 – 12:45 p.m.
Closed Case
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Tramaine Albert Williams was informed that 25-year-old Alphonso Johnson was picking flowers from University property outside the GW Hospital on 23rd Street. MPD officers escorted Johnson away from the hospital, but he returned and continued to pull up flowers from the property. MPD Officer Angela Bracey arrested Johnson and transported him to the Second District Police Station for processing. He damaged 40 flowers worth a total of $1,000 during the incident.
– Cleared by arrest.
– Compiled by Jarrod Wardwell and Kateryna Stepaneko.”

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Vote this November – it may be the most important election of our lives
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 20, 2020
“Between the COVID-19 pandemic, a gloomy economy and the specter of climate change, our generation is facing an uncertain future because of today’s problems. Yet the voices and activism of young people on these issues are often belittled or suppressed by politicians. The president himself has repeatedly bashed and cast doubt on mail-in voting, the method by which students generally vote. As a consequence, public policy, like the federal response to the pandemic, has largely ignored college students.
For our issues to be taken seriously in spite of these obstacles, one of the most important things to do is ensure our votes are counted this November. 
If young people voted in the same numbers as previous generations, it would reshape the electorate and shift the focus toward the issues we care about, like climate change and the cost of college . That’s what happened in the 2018 midterms – youth turnout doubled , ushering into office the youngest and most diverse group of federal legislators in history. We have a responsibility to keep speaking out and participating to effect long-lasting change. And this November, that means turning out to vote. Each and every vote has never been more important – and almost all of us are back home to be able to do it. 
Almost all of the existential problems our generation will inherit will have been handed to us by policymakers from previous generations. None of us had a say in demolishing the economy in 2008 or allowing the climate to heat up. Even now, young people barely merit a second thought in policy decisions. The federal pandemic response, for example, deliberately excluded college students from direct cash payouts. We will be responsible for fixing those problems eventually – and even if we cannot make them disappear right away, we can still slow their advance by showing up at the polls. 
Our vote is even more critical because of the unique stakes of this election. The trite refrain of “this is the most important election of our lifetime” happens to be true this year. The Trump administration has actively damaged democracy at home and abroad. At this moment, he is attempting to make the November election unfree and unfair by sabotaging the United States Postal Service – cutting funding, dismantling ballot-sorting machines and increasing delivery times. These steps constitute an active attempt to reduce the number of ballots counted this year – and the best way to push back against that is to turn out in historic numbers. Put simply, turning out this year may be the only way we can vote in free and fair elections in 2024. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought both new challenges and opportunities for our generation to vote. While college students typically vote by mail because they’re on campus, it may be easier to cast a ballot this election cycle while students are living at their childhood homes or permanent residences. Being at home makes it easier for many students to receive and send their mail-in ballot or show up at a polling place if they feel comfortable and safe turning out in person. Going to the polls or mailing in your ballot with parents, family or friends can lessen the difficulty or boredom associated with casting a vote and help remind you to request your ballot and cast your vote amid schoolwork and classes. There’s no excuse this year. 
Though some aspects of the virtual semester make it easier for students to vote, others can be seriously detrimental. Actually registering to vote can be a barrier for many students. In states like Louisiana , those wanting to register to vote have to print out forms and documents, which could post a barrier to people without printers. In some states like Georgia and Wisconsin, you need several forms of identification, which can be a barrier for someone who maybe never got their driver’s license. All of these may seem trivial but are just one more step between wanting to vote and actually casting a ballot. 
In this election, for most students, voting will only take a few minutes in between the activism necessary to enact systemic change. Yet the upsides of doing so are tremendous, even if you live in a solidly Democratic or Republican state. Do some research on your jurisdiction’s voter registration rules and down-ballot races. Find out where your nearest polling place or ballot drop box is. And vote.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Hannah Thacker and contributing opinions editor Andrew Sugrue, based on discussions with managing editor Parth Kotak, managing director Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, culture editor Anna Boone, sports editor Emily Maise and design editor Olivia Columbus. 
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

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Millions of patients at risk for losing health center access: study
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 20, 2020
“Researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health published a study earlier this month revealing that millions of Americans are at risk of losing access to community health centers because of a lack of funding.
The report, which is published annually using the Health Resources and Services Administration’s data on health centers, shows that visits to community health centers had dropped by about 20 percent by late August since before the pandemic and about one out of 14 centers have closed nationwide. Jessica Sharac, a research scientist in the Department of Health Policy Management, said community health centers provide services like dental care and transportation that people risk losing long-term access to.
Sharac said she worked with Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation to compile the report for 2019, and she and her team are using financial and demographic data from HRSA to track how the pandemic is affecting community health centers on a weekly basis.
She said HRSA is reporting how many centers have closed, the decline in weekly visits to centers and the percentage of staff that is unable to work due to safety concerns from the pandemic.
The report found that nearly 30 million Americans – many who are racial and ethnic minorities – received care at a federally funded health center in 2019.
Sharac said community health centers are missing large amounts of revenue because of a drop in patient visits and a lack of federal funding, which could lead to multiple closures. She added that the Affordable Care Act provided funding for community health centers, but centers could lose federal funding after the CARES Act’s funding runs out in November.
“The big problem really facing community health centers right now is financial uncertainty,” Sharac said. “Obviously with the decline in visits to community health centers because of people being afraid to go out to get health care and trying to stay indoors, they might not be able afford health care because they lost a job or similar things like that.”
Public health experts said community health center closures put uninsured community members at risk of losing their care in the long term.
Leila Barraza, an associate professor of public health at the University of Arizona, said many people haven’t been accessing the regular care they need from primary care doctors, including at community health centers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said people with underlying medical conditions who are at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19 may have trouble accessing the health care they need if their community health center has closed and they don’t have another primary care doctor.
“People still need their primary care,” she said. “We know that people with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, so those underlying conditions, people still need care for those.”
Tara McCollum Plese, the chief external affairs officer for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, said health centers in Arizona have started to offer telemedicine options for patients who don’t want to come into the office, which she said can make reimbursements for doctors complicated because telemedicine costs less than in-person care.
The Medical Faculty Associates started offering virtual follow-up visits for patients who received care at the emergency department, which medical experts said can complicate the reimbursement process for health care providers.
“The funding issue is paramount because if you don’t have a good strong workforce, it is almost impossible to serve the people in that community,” Plese said.
She added that policymakers and public health officials should use data like the information compiled in Sharac’s report to guide their decisions about how they’ll fund community health centers moving forward.
“Those people with chronic diseases may find themselves concerned about not having seen their primary care provider in a certain period of time,” she said. “Especially if they’re diabetic or have asthma, this is really the time that this is most critical that they be able to touch base with their primary care providers.”
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SA Senate approves LGBTQ, graduate student caucuses
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 18, 2020
“The Student Association Senate unanimously approved resolutions to create LGBTQ and graduate student caucuses as part of an effort to expand the representation of these groups.
Senators approved three pieces of legislation Tuesday, including guidelines for the Diversity and Inclusion Assembly to create “identity-based caucuses,” establishing two senate caucuses, and approved 10 senators to serve in vice president positions in the executive branch. SA Sen. Sebastian Weinmann, Law-G and a sponsor of the graduate caucus resolution , said the caucus will try to work “specifically” with graduate umbrella organizations to connect graduate school constituencies with administrators.
“These orgs are very effective in advocating for their own constituencies with their own schools’ administrations, but they don’t have a lot of experience in advocating on behalf of their constituencies to the University at large and University administrators,” Weinmann said. “And so one of the goals of this caucus is to help those umbrella orgs do that.”
He said many graduate students worked together during the summer via an “informal” version of the caucus to advocate for an extension of the undergraduate 10 percent tuition reduction  this semester to graduate students.
“So although that effort was not successful in securing tuition, I do want this caucus to be continuing those effects as well as other graduate-specific issues,” Weinmann said.
Senators unanimously approved the LGBTQ+ Caucus Creation Act , sponsored by SA Sen. Sam Packer, CCAS-U and the vice chair of the student life committee. Packer said the caucus members will work to amend issues related to transgender and nonbinary students like updating the “complicated” process for students to change the name on their GWorld to their preferred name, increasing gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus and allowing housing to be selected based off of students’ identified gender instead of birth sex.
The caucus members will try to ease the process for transgender students to find resources for gender-affirming physical and mental health care, she said. Packer said the caucus will also reach out to LGBTQ alumni to “expand” the knowledge of LGBTQ education to students and faculty.
“GW has not been sufficiently ensuring that the needs of its LBGTQ students are met,” she said. “The purpose of this caucus is to remedy that by providing a space for LBGTQ+ people and allies to discuss the issues we face and create policy solutions to address these issues.”
Senators also unanimously approved a bill to allow identity-based caucuses to be established under the Diversity and Inclusion Assembly throughout the year and approved 10 new members to vice president positions on executive committees including vice presidents for academic affairs, campus operations and diversity and inclusion.”

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1619 Project reporter discusses initiative's impact at webinar
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 17, 2020
“The Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement hosted a webinar on a journalism initiative highlighting African American history as part of the “Race in America” speaker series Tuesday.
The webinar featured award-winning investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones as she discussed her work with the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project  as well as feedback on the project. Nemata Blyden, a professor of African American history, moderated the event.
Hannah-Jones founded the initiative in August 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of slavery in what would become the United States, aiming to reexamine slavery’s modern legacy and reframe the way the public understands the contributions of Black Americans to the country.
Hannah-Jones said since its publication, the project has been adapted into a podcast and transformed into a school curriculum for K-12. The project has also faced criticism by some historians who reject the project’s emphasis on anti-Black discrimination as a founding element of the creation of the United States.
Hannah-Jones said she welcomes criticism of her work as she perceives the project to be a form of “activism.”
“If the 1619 Project came out into the world and there was no one pushing back against our argument, then I would have considered I failed because my arguments were too weak or comforting,” Hannah-Jones said. “The nature of activism is to cause discomfort to the status quo and to challenge those who want to maintain the status quo.”
Blyden said President Donald Trump recently announced that his administration would look into defunding the California Department of Education for including the project’s curriculum materials into the public education system.
Hannah-Jones said she was surprised that a year after its publication the project has become the “boogeyman” of the U.S. presidential elections but said she is happy that Trump’s attacks on the project have publicized it to a wider audience.
“The president has now spread the year 1619 to all of his followers, and whether his followers read a single word of the project or not, they now know that 1619 is a date of importance,” she  said. “They now know that 1619 is the beginning of American slavery, and I actually think that is a beautiful unintended consequence of what he has done.”
Hannah-Jones added that while she did not intend for the project to create a curriculum, she is most “proud” of this accomplishment. She said it provides an opportunity for learning about American history in a way that is no longer “demeaning” to Black people, Indigenous people and people of color.
“What I hope that educators get out of the project is that it should lead us to question the narratives we have,” Hannah-Jones said. “How do we know the things that we know? Who decided that we should know them? I understand that it is going to introduce children to a different understanding of our country and themselves.”
Hannah-Jones said it can be difficult for society to “grapple” with the nation’s complicated history, especially when it comes to addressing historical monuments or private institutions named after historical leaders with complex historical legacies like GW.
She advised students not to “dampen” their “sense of righteousness” when approaching their activism but to be selective about the matters they can most effectively change.
“You’re not going to rename George Washington University because George Washington University wasn’t named after him because he was an enslaver,” she said. “It is named after him because he was the first president of the United States. But the question is what we then do with that? How do we contextualize this history?””

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A-10 forms commission pushing for equity, inclusion
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 17, 2020
“Three GW coaches and officials will represent GW in a newly created organization pushing for racial diversity, equity and inclusion in the Atlantic 10, according to a release Wednesday.
The Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will implement racial equity programming that focuses on education, activism and accountability, according to the release. Head women’s tennis coach Torrie Browning, Associate Director of Development Chris Monroe and Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Caroline Laguerre-Brown will represent the University in the commission.
The organization aims to increase accountability in normalizing anti-racist behavior, improving hiring practices and supporting social justice efforts.
“We have strong programming and initiatives within each of our 14 universities and colleges, thus the opportunity to collaborate will enable all to be stronger together,” A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade  said in the release.
The commission will collaborate with existing on-campus racial justice organizations, like Athletes Driving Change, organized by women’s basketball, and Connecting for Change, put together by men’s basketball assistant coaches.
Duquesne University President Kenneth Gormley and La Salle Athletic Director Brian Baptiste will co-chair the organization, and three representatives from each member school will round out the group.
“This new initiative marks a crucial step forward in ensuring that our sports teams and staff, our campuses and society as a whole foster respect for diversity and work to combat racism at its very root,” Gormley said in the release.
In its first event, the commission will co-sponsor a symposium with Duquesne Oct. 15 to discuss the NFL’s Rooney Rule, a policy that aims to increase the hiring of people of color in the NFL, the release stated.
Several athletic conferences formed similar committees, like the Pac-12 Conference’s Social Justice & Anti-Racism Advisory Group and the Big Ten’s Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition .”

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GW must shift toward greater shared governance
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 17, 2020
“I received an email from the Pre-Law Student Association earlier this month announcing that officials had terminated the University’s only pre-law adviser position. That person was crucial to working toward any law school acceptance. 
The pre-law adviser was responsible for reviewing students’ law school applications, organizing law school fairs, hosting informational sessions, helping students navigate law school financing and advising GW Mock Trial. Removing her position directly comes at the expense of students interested in pursuing a career in law, who now have no GW resource to help them navigate their application process. 
But the layoff didn’t happen in a vacuum. While her immediate removal can be traced to the financial implications of the pandemic, the terminated position represents a symptom of a long and dysfunctional trend in higher education – one characterized by administrative bloat and the increasingly blurred lines between economic markets and higher education.
As students and faculty alike have suggested , not only should University President Thomas LeBlanc resign just as a means of recognizing his complete indifference to and abandonment of GW’s academic values, but administrators should also work toward reorganizing their priorities and restructuring themselves. Officials must give financial decision-making power to faculty, reinstate faculty autonomy of administrative decision making and prioritize job security.
The structure of the modern university can be traced back to World War II. While the Depression had left higher education institutions in desperate financial need, the war marked a drastic change in the structure of higher education as the government invested more than $300 million for war-related projects. Following the war, large increases in student enrollment and government-funded research contributed to the growth, power and size of university bureaucracies. The primary mission of these bureaucracies was to mobilize university resources to serve the interests of their funding sources: business and the armed forces. 
By the 1980s, teaching and research itself had been reformed to accommodate the needs of the private sector and remain competitive with other universities. Knowledge became much more valuable because it was able to be bought and sold and traded in global markets. Universities have also responded to the pressure to be profitable through market activities, like becoming intricately involved in finance and real-estate development. GW reflects this perfectly, having owned more than $428 million in taxable property while investing more than $1.03 billion in 2019 alone.   
This transformation in higher education has cultivated novel forms of knowledge that help academics, the government and private businesses make more money. Unfortunately, this transformation undermined academic institutions’ capacity to generate positive knowledge, much less critical thought.
As universities changed, faculty autonomy and governance became increasingly restricted . The primary goal of administrative institutions shifted to pursue new sources of revenue, while shared governance and faculty opposition stand counter to that goal. This being the case, universities hired individuals that are more directly responsible for revenue generation, like those in administrative roles. 
These revenue goals often justified the hiring of faculty not protected by tenure, who are less likely to outwardly oppose unjust administrative decisions because of their job insecurity. It is estimated that adjunct or untenured faculty make up to 75 percent of instructors. In contrast, universities dramatically expanded the number of administrators while boosting administrative salaries, especially those of university presidents, like Thomas LeBlanc who makes roughly $800 thousand or GW administrator Shahram Sarkani, who made about $1 million in 2016.
The growth of administrative bloat accompanies the process of “academic prioritization” that aims to convert low revenue-generating disciplines, like social sciences and humanities, into market-oriented disciplines, like STEM. When budget cuts need to be made, non-tenured faculty, social studies and humanities departments are the first to go because such cuts are essential in redirecting revenue toward majors and services that have potential for market growth. 
It’s this grossly inequitable trend of higher education, one that favors inflated administrative salaries, useless bureaucratic positions and bending to the will of the market, that has led to the pre-law adviser’s termination. And it’s not just the adviser, of course. More than 70 workers have been laid off since this summer, and the number will only continue to rise amid flawed administrative decisions in an already structurally unsound higher education system. 
The University needs to reinstate the position of the pre-law adviser, but they can’t stop there. They have to work toward fixing the root cause of why she was let go –  and while blaming finances is the easy way out, it ignores a long, complicated history of structural mismanagement and undermining of traditional academic prioritization. 
Karina Ochoa Berkley, a sophomore majoring in political science and philosophy, is an opinions writer.”

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Dish of the Week: Levain Bakery's café con leche cookie
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 17, 2020
“For nearly 25 years, Levain Bakery has been a New York City staple that’s known for its massive 6-ounce cookies. But now you can find the famous cookies just minutes from campus.
Located at 3131 M St. NW in Georgetown, the D.C. shop is the bakery’s first venture outside of New York. The cookies’ cult following in New York followed to the District, drawing blocks-long lines at the Georgetown opening Wednesday.
Along with cookies, Levain Bakery offers classic baked goods like baguettes ($3), blueberry muffins ($2.95) and walnut sticky buns ($4.50).
You can also sip on several espresso drinks like lattes ($3.50), mochas ($4.25) or macchiatos ($2.75). If you’re not a fan of caffeine, you can opt for a hot chocolate ($4) made with Valrhona chocolate, a luxury chocolate from France.
The cookies ($4) are the main event, coming in five flavors – chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate peanut butter chip and two chip chocolate chip. Levain Bakery offers a gluten-free version of its chocolate chip walnut cookie. And to celebrate the opening of its D.C. location, you can try a limited-edition café con leche cookie.
Sophia Young | Contributing Photo Editor
D.C. is Levain Bakery’s first venture outside New York City.
The newest flavor is only available at the Georgetown location and was developed in collaboration with D.C. pastry chef Paola Velez. The chef is a co-founder of Bakers Against Racism – which raised nearly $1,900,000 throughout the summer for several social justice organizations – and the pastry chef at Maydan, a Middle Eastern restaurant in D.C.
For the month that it’s available, proceeds from the café con leche cookie will be donated to Horton’s Kids, a D.C. organization that aims to help children from under-resourced communities in D.C. graduate from high school and prepare for college.
I’ve already tried the other flavors in New York, so I knew I had to get the café con leche cookie. The giant cookie, which was practically the size of my palm, is made with the bakery’s signature dark chocolate cookie dough along with espresso and cinnamon.
Cookies are typically served fresh throughout the day, creating a gooey and warm interiors. I held onto my cookie for a bit before eating it, warming it up in the oven at 350 degrees for the same gooey texture.
The cookie’s Valrhona chocolate and dulce chips oozed out from being warmed up, bringing out the soft and melty flavors Levain Bakery is so well known for. Despite the gooey inside, the cookie maintained a somewhat crisp exterior, allowing me to drip them into a cold glass of oat milk.
Even though the cookie features chocolate dough and two types of chocolate, I somehow didn’t find it overwhelmingly sweet. The crunchy cashews and hints of espresso and cinnamon balanced the cookie’s sweetness more successfully than I expected. Plus, the sprinkle of sea salt atop was a welcome salty surprise that curbed the more sugary aspects of the cookie.
Levain Bakery’s new café con leche cookie is worth the hype and warrants a trip – or even two – to Georgetown before it leaves the menu next month.”

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LeBlanc walks back comment about 'undergraduate enrollment' level
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 16, 2020
“University President Thomas LeBlanc is walking back comments he made at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday about GW’s undergraduate enrollment.
LeBlanc and Provost Brian Blake said in an email to the GW community Tuesday that GW’s “total undergraduate enrollment” fell by 7.2 percent this year based on preliminary estimates, with 11,097 undergraduates enrolled on the first day of class as compared to 11,953 students at the same time last year. LeBlanc said at the meeting Friday that officials project “close to” $76 million in lost revenues associated with tuition and increased financial aid.
“Our undergraduate enrollment is about 1,000 students below our target of 10,126 students,” LeBlanc said at the meeting Friday. “Over 600 of these students are upperclass students who did not return in the fall. Among the new students, we had 175 international students who either were not able to enroll or chose not to enroll. And despite our aggressive use of the waitlist, we enrolled 220 fewer domestic undergraduate students as new students.”
But now LeBlanc says his reference to “undergraduate enrollment” was intended as “estimates for budget planning” and does not reflect “overall enrollment numbers.”
In the email Tuesday, LeBlanc and Blake said LeBlanc’s reference to “undergraduate enrollment” only included full-time, traditional undergraduate students on the Foggy Bottom Campus but left out non-traditional students, students in online programs before the pandemic and part-time students. LeBlanc did not make this distinction during the meeting.
It remains unclear if LeBlanc’s statement on Friday about the number of upperclassman who did not return this fall, international students who did not enroll or the decrease in new domestic undergraduate students were also estimates for budget planning.
A University spokesperson did not return a request for comment seeking clarification.
“Media reports have mixed budget projections and official enrollment numbers and created an inaccurate impression of our enrollment, comparing our official, reported enrollment at last year’s October census to the budget target cited by President LeBlanc,” LeBlanc and Blake said in the email. “This is an apples to oranges comparison.”
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Dozens demand LeBlanc's resignation in protest march
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 15, 2020
“Nearly 100 faculty, staff and students marched from Kogan Plaza to University President Thomas LeBlanc’s on-campus residence to demand his resignation Friday.
Demonstrators at the “No Confidence in LeBlanc or GW BOT Rally,” organized by the Faculty Association, marched from Kogan Plaza to the F Street House with chants like “Defund LeBlanc” and “Heather Swain, shame.” Demonstrators delivered a list of demands to LeBlanc’s residence, calling for a “renewed commitment” to shared governance and “mutual respect.”
“I’ve just been appalled by everything he’s done since he’s become president, but it’s gotten worse and worse,” Dane Kennedy, a professor of history and international affairs who helped lead the march, said in an interview. “I think a bunch of us have figured out that if we can’t persuade the Board of Trustees to take action, at least we can voice our concerns as clearly as possible.”
Kate Carpenter | Photographer
Kennedy said he chose to protest because of LeBlanc’s hiring of Heather Swain, GW’s partnership with the Disney Institute, administrators’ “bloated”  salaries and the 20/30 Plan .
The demands delivered to LeBlanc also cite ongoing layoffs as administrators pledge to avoid tapping the University’s endowment.
“The problems with this administration is how they in fact don’t provide information,” Kennedy said. “They just do not inform us about what’s going on.”
Senior Yannik Omictin said administrators have been slow to respond to student demands, like free laundry. Administrators began providing students with free laundry credits following a yearlong push by the Student Association to remove auxiliary costs of living on campus.
Kate Carpenter | Photographer
Kate Carpenter | Photographer
“It’s about time that we’re done with this incrementalism,” he said. “It’s about time to come to LeBlanc’s house more often – every week, every day – and say these things over, over and over again and demand change that is actually systemic.”
Erin Chapman, the Faculty Association’s president and an associate professor of history and women’s studies, said LeBlanc is not fit to serve as GW’s president.
“I’m so glad we’re doing this and pushing for the University we want to see, the University we want to build,” Chapman said. “And he’s not the head of that University.”
Chapman said the Board must act more responsibly and support GW’s employees and students. She added that LeBlanc is leading GW in an autocratic system as if it is a real estate company or corporation.
“This University is a nonprofit,” she said. “It is supposed to be pushing for the education of students and positive social change.”
Chapman condemned ongoing layoffs across administrative units, adding that administrators’ recent financial decisions have negatively impacted employees’ livelihoods.
“First step, get LeBlanc out,” Chapman said. “He has got to go. Then, get a president who will talk to all of us, who will engage all of us, who respects all of us, who won’t take $1.5 million.”
Gabrielle Rhoads | Staff Photographer
Ivy Ken, the Faculty Association’s vice president and an associate professor of sociology, said she has “no confidence” in the administration, including LeBlanc and other top officials.
“I would like to ask members of the Board: when you continue to hire mediocre White guys, what do you think is going to happen?” Ken said.
In her speech at the protest, Ken demanded new diverse leadership to run the University.
“We’ve had 200 years of White guy presidents,” she said. “Time’s up.””

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Top GW sports moments: Men’s soccer takes NCAA Tournament win
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 13, 2020
“In lieu of fall sports, we’re dusting off the history books and taking a look back on 10 of the best GW sports moments, ever. Here’s to hoping some old-fashioned nostalgia can keep us going until the restart.
No. 4: First NCAA Tournament win sends Colonials to Sweet 16
The 1989 men’s soccer team made history by reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first team to win an NCAA match.
The squad had been to the NCAA Tournament three times prior in 1974, 1977 and 1978, but the Colonials were sent home without a win each time. Eleven years later, the team went on to defeat local rivals George Mason in the first round.
The star-studded squad, led by the school’s all-time winningest coach George Lidster and then-sophomore forward Mario Lone, bounced back from a six-win 1988 campaign and earned an at-large bid to the tournament.
Spurred by eight wins in its first nine matches, the 1989 team went on to set the program record for most wins in a season with 14. Away wins against Georgetown, Syracuse and West Virginia highlighted GW’s regular-season results.
GW featured a high-powered offense during that season, scoring in 16 of its 17 regular season matches. Lone tallied 19 goals, and senior goalkeeper Harry Bargmann stopped 131 shots. Both still stand as single-season records for the program. Lone also set the program record for most games with a goal in a single season, hitting the back of the net in 14 different matches.
A 9–0 thrashing of St. Bonaventure and a 1–0 win over Navy in the week leading up to postseason play set the stage for the Colonials. In the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the team faced a rematch with Penn State, which had bested GW 2–1 earlier in the season and sent them home from the A-10 Tournament a year before.
GW failed to get its revenge. A brace from Lone was not enough to prevent the Nittany Lions from capturing a 3–2 win en route to their third consecutive A-10 title. Despite their early exit from the conference tournament, the Colonials were ultimately selected to play the Patriots in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Colonials brushed the Patriots aside 3–1, scoring their three goals on just four shots thanks to a series of defensive miscues. George Mason had cut the lead to 2–1 right before halftime, but GW held on during the second half and eventually secured the victory via a late strike from Rod Gee with just 1:26 on the clock.
GW advanced to the Sweet 16 against No. 3 Indiana, which boasted a pair of prolific goalscorers in brothers Ken and Steve Snow. Ken was the reigning Hermann Trophy winner, given to the best male college player in the country.
Both Snows had already earned an international cap for the United States at the time, and Steve would go on to win a gold medal for his country in the 1991 Pan American Games while also playing professionally for 10-time Belgian Champions Standard Liège.
Indiana was a familiar foe for the Colonials. During the previous season, GW traveled to Indiana and knocked off the then-top ranked Hoosiers 1–0.
This time around, Indiana scored two goals on either side of the half and dispatched the Colonials 4–0. Junior forward Ken Snow scored the opening goal six minutes into the match, while Steve Snow notched a goal and an assist. GW launched eight shots but could not hit the back of the net.
In the Elite Eight, Indiana faced D.C.-based opposition again, edging Howard 2–1 in overtime.
Under Lidster, the program was able to capture an A-10 regular-season title in 1992, as well as A-10 Tournament crowns in 2002 and 2004. Lidster retired at the conclusion of the 2011 season after 20 years at the helm and 201 wins. He won his first A-10 Coach of the Year Award in 1989 and tacked on two more before it was all said and done.
Bargmann’s 337 career saves also landed him No. 1 in school history. Lone would go on to become GW’s all-time leader in goals (50) and points (117). In 1989, Lone earned his first of two A-10 Player of the Year awards. He also nabbed spots on the NSCAA All-America Second Team and the NSCAA South Atlantic Region First Team.”

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Faculty Senate refers censure resolution to committee
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 12, 2020
“The Faculty Senate voted Friday to recommit a resolution to committee censuring University President Thomas LeBlanc for hiring an official involved with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, directing one of its committees to meet with LeBlanc in private about the matter.
Former Michigan State University Heather Swain rescinded her job offer as GW’s vice president for communications and marketing last month following widespread criticism of her efforts to shield information from investigators during the Nassar case in her role at MSU. The censure resolution would request a “full and complete” account of the vetting process for Swain’s hiring, which sparked concerns from some senators about LeBlanc’s ability to share details publicly.
The motion to recommit, which passed 22 to 11, directs the appointment, salary and promotion policies committee to seek a private meeting with LeBlanc and subsequently advise the senate at its next meeting on Oct. 9 if LeBlanc has “satisfactorily” provided those details. The committee will also advise the senate if LeBlanc has presented a document able to be shared publicly about a process for vetting all future “high-level” administrators that includes faculty input.
Arthur Wilson, the chair of the senate’s executive committee, said the hiring is a “grievous error,” and the executive committee has worked “very hard” to receive an explanation about from LeBlanc.
“The answer we’ve pretty consistently gotten is that the lawyers will not allow President LeBlanc to go into detail about what happened and how we can make sure it’ll never happen again,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he voted in favor of the motion to recommit so the ASPP committee can obtain more thorough answers. LeBlanc left the virtual meeting before senators debated the censure resolution.
Earlier in the meeting, LeBlanc said there were “limits” to what he could share in a public setting about the hiring.
“It is not a discussion I want to have it in a public meeting,” he said.
LeBlanc said Swain’s hiring did not cost GW any money, adding that the outside firm used to conduct the search has come to “an agreement” with the University.
A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment about the agreement with the search firm.
The censure resolution, which will be debated again at the senate’s next meeting, condemns LeBlanc for “violating the core principles” of the University. LeBlanc has previously apologized for hiring Swain, adding that he takes “full responsibility.”
The motion to recommit also directs the ASPP committee to advise the senate next month if they should withdraw or amend the censure resolution or debate it as currently written.
Guillermo Orti, a faculty senator who opposed the motion to recommit, said a “solid case” already exists for the senate to censure LeBlanc and pass the resolution.
“I don’t think wasting one month of time will help us understand this better,” Orti said.
Sarah Wagner, a faculty senator who also opposed the motion to recommit, said the issue at hand was “caring” for the University community and making the senate’s position clear.
“[Swain] was invited to work for us in communications and marketing,” Wagner said. “This isn’t just tone deaf. This is a refusal to care for our students.”
The censure resolution also urges the Board of Trustees not to overturn the censure.
Kurt Johnson, a faculty senator and professor of anatomy and cell biology, said he does not support censuring LeBlanc given the “extreme stress” brought on by the pandemic.
“The Faculty Senate seems hell-bent about finding something that’s going wrong with the administration,” Johnson said.
The debate comes as hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni have demanded LeBlanc’s resignation, with some citing the Swain hiring as rationale. The Faculty Association, an independent group open to all full-time faculty, organized a demonstration with nearly 100 people earlier Friday in support of LeBlanc’s resignation.”

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History students discuss impact of Jessica Krug's lie
by The GW Hatchet
Sep 12, 2020
“Students discussed how history professor Jessica Krug’s lie about her Black identity have altered their perception of academia and the University”
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WU’s newest publication, the Danforth Dispatch, publishes its debut issue
by Student Life
Oct 14, 2020
“The Danforth Dispatch, Washington University’s newest student-run publication dedicated to promoting opinions it considers to be unpopular with the University’s largely left-leaning culture, published its first online issue, Oct. 1.
The stated mission of the Danforth Dispatch is to “critique the radical ideologies dominating campus culture” by promoting critical analyses and ideological freedom. Articles from its first issue covered topics ranging from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to circumcision as a means for men’s oppression.
Senior Jacob Ramer and juniors Matias Mayesh, Damian Servidio and Walter Treat came up with the idea for the Dispatch last spring, in a reaction to what Servidio described as a “uniformity of thought” on campus.
“It’s not so much that we disagree with the opinions that people have, but we don’t like the idea that [we have to] hear the same thing over and over again,” Servidio said. “And it gets kind of tiring after a while.”
Curran Neenan | Student Life
Over the summer, the students reached out for support from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an organization dedicated to promoting conservative thought on college campuses. Founded in the 1950s by prominent conservative thinker and founder of the National Review William F. Buckley Jr., the organization has built up a network of around 18 student publications on college campuses including the Brown Spectator, the Princeton Tory and the Dartmouth Review.
Certain publications such as the Princeton Tory or the Dartmouth Review are self-described conservative publications, while others such as the Stanford Review or the Middlebury Independent adopt a nonpartisan stance. The Danforth Dispatch plans to follow in the footsteps of the latter two publications, welcoming opinions from all ideological perspectives. Mayesh claims that although the Dispatch receives funding from an organization dedicated to promoting conservative thought, the ISI will exert no editorial influence on the paper.
“They [the ISI] sponsor our organization, but they have no editorial control over us at all,” Mayesh said. “We have full discretion over what happens and that’s really about it. They’ve helped us organize a website—that’s it.”
Mayesh pointed to editorials by ISI-funded publications in favor of defunding the police and electing Bernie Sanders as examples of perspectives that the Dispatch would be open to publishing in the future. In the present, the publication’s first issue featured a mix of conservative pieces and apolitical content, with no left wing perspectives included.
However, Mayesh welcomed leftist writers to join, pointing out that only one issue had been published so far, and that the Dispatch would welcome unconventional opinions from all sides of the aisle.
“Generally we really are willing to publish anything that is unconventional,” he said. “You know, if someone came up to us with a traditional Marxist interpretation of something going on in academia and it was interesting, and we didn’t see that before in some other kind of campus publication we’d publish it.”
When asked about the potential difficulty of finding left-wing writers for the Dispatch, Servidio was unconcerned.
“The fact of the matter is our rule is that we will publish unconventional opinions that we aren’t seeing a lot,” he said. “If society is such that all of the unconventional opinions are right-wing, that’s a problem for society to think about. It’s not a problem for us.”
According to Mayesh, the fact that the Dispatch is funded by a conservative organization and at the moment mostly populated by right-leaning members, should not dissuade writers from other parts of the political spectrum from joining.
“I am a conservative and yes, that’s true that I am the president of the college Republicans, but I fully acknowledged that and I’m not going to deny it,” Mayesh said. “So it’s not like I’m hiding from anybody… I’ve invited plenty of people to come write for us. And some of them have said, ‘no’, some of them out of fear, some of them just not wanting to be associated [with the publication]… I’ve made a concerted effort to invite people and I always will.”
For the upcoming semester, the editors of the Dispatch are planning to include more reported content, new opinions and potentially a print issue.
“We’re hoping since this first issue is out, we’ll get more people coming to us and having just a wider variety of opinions to choose from the published journal, next issues,” Treat said. “And then we’re hoping to get a paper issue out next semester.””

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Athlete of the week: Volleyball senior Kirby Knapp on getting up after the sun and a fall without round robins
by Student Life
Oct 13, 2020
“In a year without a pandemic, the Washington University volleyball team would be preparing for its final set of regular season University Athletic Association matchups this week, a double-header against Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University next Sunday in Rochester, N.Y. Instead, the Bears are still easing their way into practices. All NCAA games are canceled this year, but there is the hope that the spring will allow for scrimmages against individual teams. 
To get a sense of what the first few weeks of the fall semester have been like for the Bears, Student Life called Kirby Knapp. One of two seniors on the team, Knapp was third in the UAA in assists per set last year. She would likely have surpassed 3,000 career assists this year, vaulting herself even further into the University’s top 10. 
This interview has been edited for length and clarity . 
Grace Bruton | Student Life Knapp gets underneath the ball for a set against Nebraska Wesleyan University in the fall of 2018.
Student Life: I want to start off by asking about what you’ve been able to do as a team thus far. What have practices been like? 
Kirby Knapp: We’re heading into our second week of practices in the gym and third week of lifts in the weight room, but we’re divided into two small groups of less than 10 people and we’re not mixing those groups at all. We wear masks when we practice and lift. But we’re getting into practice three times a week and lift twice, so a fair amount actually.
SL: What are you able to do with those two separate groups of 10? Are you able to have something that replicates what a normal practice would look like?
KK: It’s a little different right now. We’re not doing as many team drills, both from a safety standpoint and also just getting back into touching a volleyball and stuff. I think it’s going to pick up more as the weeks go on, but right now it’s right now more individual skill-focused.
SL: Before you were allowed back in the gym, what sort of volleyball activities were you able to fit in over the summer?
KK: Over the summer, they sent us our summer workout program, which we do every summer, and I know that a few girls were able to get into gyms and play volleyball, depending on what state they were in. I was in California, so I wasn’t able to touch a ball that much in a gym setting. There wasn’t a lot over the summer, actually.
SL: What was that like for you to return to practice after not playing over the summer?
KK: I was nervous at first, starting back up and having to wear a mask. And that definitely is tough, but it’s made me feel so grateful for all the time I have in the gym with my teammates now, especially with it being my last year here. It’s definitely really nice to get back into a routine of leaving my apartment and going and working out and exercising and stuff, just being around my coaches and my players.
SL: Given that it is your last year here, I imagine that it must have been incredibly difficult to find out that you wouldn’t have a typical fall season. What was it like when you heard the cancellation announcement back in July? 
KK: I was kind of expecting it. We weren’t the first team in our conference to have our season canceled and we knew we had a team meeting coming up, so I knew what was going to happen at the meeting, but it was still really hard to hear it come from my coach. I think the hardest part was not being around my teammates to process the news.
SL: Yeah, it seems so tough to be physically separate from your team, even with tools like Zoom. Given how strange I’m sure this fall semester has been for you generally speaking with no sports, what’s been the weirdest part? 
KK: I think that waking up when the sun is already up is the weirdest thing. We usually have morning practices, so I’m out of the house by like six or so every morning. So a lot more sleeping in is happening this semester. One of our practices is in the morning, but it’s at like eight instead of 6:30. And then the other ones are in the evening. 
SL: Wow, 8 a.m. is still impressive. What do you miss the most about a regular sports season?
KK: Just the amount of time I get to spend with my teammate on a daily basis. Right now, we are in the small groups and I do get to see my teammates, but I see half of them and we’re not allowed to shower in the locker rooms or use the locker rooms, really. We can’t eat together on campus, so it’s just all of the off the court stuff that you don’t really think means a lot, but it ultimately does. 
SL: Right, that makes sense with it being a lot of the more informal times where you’re getting to know each other and all of that. If you think about what you want this year’s freshmen to learn from you during such a weird and unprecedented semester, what are some of the lessons that you want them to get out of Wash. U. volleyball, or that you want them to absorb as they head into hopefully being able to play next fall in what looks like a normal UAA season?
KK: I think the biggest thing is not to take anything for granted. Obviously, none of us expected this. My plans were to finish out my spring season last year and stay here over the summer and work out and then finish senior season this year. And that all kind of stopped in March and my plans changed. So you just never know when your last ball is going to be—or your last game is going to be. Even though they’re young, it’s really important to know that from the start, that you’ve got to work hard now because you never know when it is going to be the last time.”

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WU brings new taste to campus with Stanley’s Sushi and Tea House
by Student Life
Oct 12, 2020
“I never visited the old Stanley’s. Something about the place scared me. I think it was the aggressive cafeteria vibes: the green plastic chairs, the rectangular plastic table tops and the beige tiled floor. I felt like I was back in high school.
I wasn’t the only one either. For the last few years, the Lopata Hall dining space has been one of Dining Services’ lowest-performing locations. That’s why Andrew Watling, the associate director of Dining Operations, says they decided to spice it up with sushi, the only location on campus with it.
“Students want sushi,” Watling says. “It’s that simple.”
Watling says the process has taken longer than a year. They brought in real sushi chefs from FujiSan, a sushi-making franchise, to ensure the food reached student expectations.
“Sushi is one of those products where there is a lot of expertise and training that goes into making it well,” Watling says. “A lot of people can make bad sushi, but not a lot of people can make really good sushi. If you want to have really good quality sushi available on campus, these guys are experts on it, so we felt this was the best way to get students the best product.”
Although the green plastic chairs haven’t disappeared, the food has reenergized the space. No more hot dogs, soups and pastries. Now it’s all about sushi, poke bowls and boba tea.
Even during the pandemic, the new Stanley’s Sushi and Tea House, which opened this fall, is bringing in students from all over the Washington University campus. With limited on-campus housing, visitation numbers have plummeted at every campus eatery—that is, except for Stanley’s. They’ve even had to add more staff members at the location. And that’s thanks to the sushi.
It still feels daunting on this Friday morning at 10:30 a.m., a day where few students have class. The pitch-black offices peer over the food court. The rumbling hum of a refrigerator fills the silence. I ignore it by diving into the menu, where I find myself surprised by the variety of options. It feels like a real restaurant menu. I try to decipher the best combination. Crab and shrimp? “Sushi” and “premium sushi”? Maybe a shrimp poke bowl or calamari salad?
I decide on a classic and crunchy combo—a California roll and shrimp tempura roll, each for $6.50. “Sushi can fairly easily get a little expensive,” Watling says. “So we really wanted to make sure there were options available that hit at a really budget-friendly price point.”
As the cashier pulls out the large tempura rolls from the glass refrigerator, I’m impressed by the vibrant colors. The rolls are painted with brown and yellow sauces, while the outside is drizzled with an orange pebble-looking crunch. Although I admire the design, I feel a little intimated, wondering if there’s too much going on for my morning stomach.
I play it safe and start with the California rolls. The crab meat dominates the interior of the roll, but I can still taste the mushy avocado. Neither, however, produces a particularly strong taste. Instead, I find myself impressed by the tightly packed, yet squishy rice. I know this isn’t good—if I’m focusing on the rice, a pretty hard part of the sushi to mess up, that must say something about the rest of the meal. As I often do with a California roll, I use a slab of wasabi to give it the punch it needs. I notice this is the first time I’ve ever stopped to appreciate a California roll. Normally it’s an easy and satisfying meal to eat on the run, but maybe not to sit down and enjoy.
I realize it’s time for a little more flavor. When I bite into the tempura roll, I notice the crunch first, and not the spice. The tempura crunch, both in the middle and on the sides, complements and contrasts the familiar California roll taste of imitation crab and avocado.
Benjamin Simon After opening up this fall, Stanley’s Sushi and Tea House has attracted students with sushi meals like this shrimp tempura roll. The $6.50 dish features tempura shrimp, imitation crab, cucumber, avocado, tempura crunch and sesame seeds.
That’s when the spice kicks in, but it’s only a dash. The mayonnaise and soy-looking sauces quickly disappear into the roll and I dive into another one, hoping to find more. I keep waiting for the spice to reappear, but it fades with every bite and every roll.
I’m the kind of person who enjoys eating spicy food until it’s spicy. And this is probably the right amount of spice for me. Just enough for me to taste, but not enough to overwhelm. I feel encouraged to order something with even more heat next time.
On the way out, I buy a mango green boba tea to wash down the sushi. I ask the cashier how business has been. I can’t hear her through the mask, but I see her point around the line-forming stanchions and back towards the chairs—that’s how long the lines have been during the week.
As I walk outside, my first sip of the tea is filled with mango syrup and boba balls. I let the drink sit for a few minutes, hoping the ice will melt into the syrup. When I return a few minutes later, it has diluted just as I hoped, giving it a refreshing and not overly fruity taste.
I take a seat in a shady alleyway tucked beside Lopata and behind Cupples II Hall. I’m happy to be outside, happy to hear birds instead of a humming refrigerator. And for someone who has spent the last few weeks eating the same veggie burger meals for lunch, I’m happy to have my stomach filled with something new.”

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Go with the flow: How the WU dance program has handled the pandemic
by Student Life
Oct 12, 2020
“In a semester that has challenged every academic department, dance classes at Washington University have gotten creative to try and adapt to a new environment.
It’s hard enough to absorb class material when it is delivered through a Zoom meeting or an asynchronous module. Every department has confronted the issue of maintaining the same caliber of education for their students given the, to quote many a university email, unprecedented conditions. The Performing Arts Department’s dance program, however, faces the unique dilemma of trying to teach an intimate, physical discipline while keeping students’ safety the top priority.  
Curran Neenan | Student Life The entrance to one of the dance studios in the Olin Women’s Building. The pandemic has limited capacity in the studios and forced the dance program to adopt new methods and technologies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone online in the middle of the spring semester, along with the ubiquitous hardship of adapting the curriculum to unfamiliar technology, dance classes struggled to find ways to engage students in the performance of the body through the abyss of the digital void. Using bedrooms as stages, fighting with family for bandwidth and struggling to stay in sync with music that cuts out twice a minute, students and professors alike have sorely missed the stability of the studio.  
Coming into the fall semester, dance program coordinator and professor David Marchant has exhausted every avenue to get dancers back in person while continuing to provide opportunities for online students. This includes everything from 10 foot by 10 foot pods in studios to new technology that tracks foot movements for online dancers. Still, he acknowledges the obvious gap between the two formats. “It’s an idea to give [online students] the same experience—it’s not possible,” he said. “Instead of pretending I’m trying to give them an equal experience, I’m acknowledging the fact that they are working in a different experience.” 
Catering instruction to online students has been particularly difficult for dance given its inherent physicality and focus on group synchrony, he said, but the program is doing what dancers do best: pivot. Instead of trying to replicate an in-class experience, professors are using the pandemic’s constraints as a creative opportunity to explore new formats for performance—thinking outside the pod, so to speak. 
“After 25 years of teaching…you get into habits, assumptions about how the form works,” Marchant said. The virus has forced him and his colleagues to rethink their craft and how to use the limitations of a screen (or a pod) as a tool to express in new, unique ways. In Marchant’s case, this means incorporating the camera as an element of performance in his Dance Composition class. “I’m shocked I hadn’t thought of it sooner…we’re creating a new artform,” he said, demonstrating by picking up the camera and slowly moving it as he performs a short dance. 
With constantly shifting conditions and new opportunities slowly being implemented, improvisation has become the new normal for dance instruction, but these professors are used to staying on their toes at all times. “I and my colleagues feel very grateful at this moment that we’re artists,” Marchant said.   
For students, it’s been refreshing to dance in any capacity. Junior Serena Schein, a dance minor and classroom engagement moderator, says that rejoining the dance community, even in a limited fashion, has been important in regaining a sense of structure. 
“Over Zoom, you’re not seeing other people struggle or succeed with you, and you’re more aware of your own inability to do things…it feels like you’re struggling alone,” Schein said. Without the benefit of her classmates and professors, “as a dancer, you don’t know if you’re doing it right because you can’t watch yourself.” 
Still, the opportunity to return to the studio and have some degree of balance in her practice has been particularly rewarding in a year fraught with obstacles. Even with the limitations in place this semester, “it is still my highlight at Wash. U.,” Schein said. Nobody knows how long we’ll be separated by pods and learning from computers, but for Wash. U.’s dancers, moving with the times has been—and will be—the key to success. ”

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Staff Editorial: The least you can do: Here’s how to vote in this fall’s general election
by Student Life
Oct 10, 2020
“Normally, the Student Life Editorial Board would run a staff editorial about voting during the last week of October, just before Election Day. This year, though, voting is different. The pandemic—along with various efforts to suppress voter turnout —has made voting incredibly complicated this fall, despite the need to exercise our right to vote being as clear as ever. So here we are now, a full 26 days before Nov. 3, to explain how to vote in this year’s general election.
Since many Washington University students are Missouri voters, we have chosen to focus on this state’s voting process. Other states have different processes and restrictions, so if you choose to vote elsewhere, be sure to get specific information about how that particular state handles the voting process. The website howto.vote can connect you to the information you need if you cast your vote outside of Missouri.
Option 1a: Absentee voting by mail
If you are not going to be in Missouri on Election Day but still have a Missouri address or if you meet other criteria, such as working at the polls on Election Day or caring for someone who is sick, you can vote absentee. Absentee voting was already an option for some Missouri voters prior to the pandemic, but the state added two additional reasons to vote absentee this year: incapacity due to illness or being part of a high-risk group for COVID-19. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, you do not need to provide proof that you are in a high-risk group.
The first way you can vote absentee is completely contactless. You can fill out the absentee ballot request form and then email or mail it to your local Board of Elections. That request form is due by Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 5 p.m., so make sure to fill it out as soon as possible to guarantee that it’s received on time, especially if you’re sending it in via mail. The Board of Elections will then mail you a ballot, which you will have to fill out, get notarized and return by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 (either by mail or by dropping it off at the Board of Elections). That is a lot of steps, so be sure to start this process as soon as possible to ensure your ballot gets counted.
If you fall into one of the two new categories, you do not need to have your ballot notarized. For other reasons to vote absentee, the Gephardt Institute has developed a list of notaries on and near campus to help you notarize your ballot in a timely manner.
Here, we’ve listed some more information regarding voting absentee in St. Louis County and St. Louis City , respectively. If you are not sure where you are registered to vote, click here to check your registration.
Option 1b: Absentee voting in person
If you meet one of the state’s criteria, you can also vote absentee before Election Day by going to your local Board of Elections and filling out an absentee application. You will receive your ballot on the spot and be able to cast it while you’re at the Board of Elections. In order to vote absentee in person, you have to go to the local Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. This option does not require you to go to a notary, since that will be taken care of at the Board of Elections, but you still need some form of identification.
Option 2: Mail-in voting
If you will be in Missouri on Election Day and do not meet the other criteria to qualify for absentee voting, you still have other options beyond voting in person. To respond to the pandemic, the state introduced universal mail-in voting this year.
The process is very similar to absentee voting, but you do not need to have a specified reason in order to vote by mail.
To start, you must mail the ballot request form to your local Board of Elections or go in person to apply for the form (unfortunately, email is not an option). Again, the deadline to have your request submitted is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. If you’re mailing in the request form, be sure to account for the time it will take for it to be processed and delivered through the mail.
They will then send you a ballot, which you must fill out, notarize and return by mail no later than 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Just as with the absentee voting process, there are lots of steps, so start now!
Option 3: In-person voting on election day
If neither of those options work for you, you can still vote in person on Nov. 3. You can look up your polling place location at the Missouri Secretary of State’s website , which also provides a list of acceptable forms of identification that you’ll be required to have with you on voting day.
Things to remember
Follow all of the instructions on the ballot request form and on the ballot itself, including signing all of the correct places. Do not give election officials a reason to disqualify your ballot by filling out the wrong parts of the form or forgetting to sign the envelope.
If you’re voting absentee or with a mail-in ballot, start as soon as you can! The deadline to have your ballot request submitted is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, but don’t wait until the last minute, as the mail moves slowly and your request may not get there in time.
Be sure to bring with you an acceptable form of identification when voting in person or dropping off your absentee ballot.
Just because polls show a wide margin in the national election does not mean that your vote is meaningless: State and local elections are very important and are often much closer than the national votes, especially in states like Missouri.
Additional Resources
The Gephardt Institute’s COVID-19 voting FAQ
The Gephardt Institute’s mail-in voting guide
List of notaries on or near campus
On its own, voting is not nearly sufficient. America’s problems run much deeper than the failures of any single current politician. But voting is a start, and a necessary one. Electing better leaders will not solve the many issues we face, but it will open the door to progress.”

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Editor’s Note Episode 1: The story of a newsroom
by Student Life
Oct 09, 2020
“As college campuses grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, student journalists are facing the story of a lifetime. In this new weekly podcast, Multimedia Editor Jaden Satenstein breaks down Student Life’s biggest stories with the reporters and editors who produced them. Today’s pilot episode features the editors of all five sections giving insight into what they’ll be covering this semester.
“Editor’s Note Episode 1: The story of a newsroom” can also be found on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud .
Christine Watridge
The transcript of the episode can be found below. It has been lightly edited for clarity:
JADEN SATENSTEIN (0:13-1:02): As college campuses grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, student journalists are facing the story of a lifetime. So, let’s take a look at how they’re reporting on it.
I’m Multimedia Editor Jaden Satenstein, and you’re listening to Editor’s Note, Student Life’s new weekly podcast. I’ll be talking to reporters and editors every week to break down our biggest stories.
Today, we’ll hear from the editors of all five sections to get a bit more insight into what they’ll be covering this semester.
To start off, we’ll hear from our Senior News Editors, juniors Em McPhie and Ted Moskal, on how they’re reporting on such a historic semester for Washington University. With an ever-changing news cycle, McPhie noted that COVID-19 is only one of the major developing stories on campus.
EM MCPHIE (1:03-1:39): Even without COVID, this is an election year. So we’ve had a couple stories, I guess one last weekend, one this coming week related to the upcoming election. Obviously there’s a lot of Greek Life stuff that happened over the summer that’s still ongoing. There’s a lot of changes to the way that classes are working, the way [Emergency Support Team] is working. We had a story on that recently. How are, how has testing been happening and how will it continue to happen? So there’s really just so much stuff here to cover that I feel like the biggest challenge is limiting ourselves to, you know, ‘Okay, what do we have the capacity to cover?’
JS (1:40-1:47): With all that and more going on at Wash. U., I asked McPhie and Moskal about some of the issues they’re exploring that may be less visible to students.
TED MOSKAL (1:48-2:09): A couple things that I think we want to look into more is sort of how the COVID pandemic is impacting the areas around Wash. U. and the St. Louis community, which typically has not been something that the News section has covered in great depth, and it’s something I think we’re planning to do a little bit more of this semester.
EM (2:10-2:32): I think another thing that I’m curious about is, with Zoom classes and with the financial difficulties that a lot of people have been experiencing as a result of the pandemic, we’re seeing a conversation nationally about higher education. And, you know, is it worth it? Is it sustainable at the price point that it’s currently at? JS (2:33-2:46): Yeah, thank you for bringing all these up. I think these are kind of questions that are on a lot of people’s minds. And I wonder, also, are there any specific major questions that you really want answered?
EM (2:47-3:34): I think my biggest question is, with all of the promises that the University has made over the last few months, specifically in terms of racial justice, are they going to be following through on that and how are they going to be following through on that? Because we’ve seen a lot of rhetoric over the summer when there aren’t students here and now students are back. And now it’s time for action. So we’re seeing some new committees forming and some new task forces and some new plans and like, that’s all well and good, but my biggest question is, what concrete actions are going to be taken? You know, Ted brought up need-blind. That’s something that applies to racial justice. And that’s something that students have been calling for for a long time. So is Wash. U. going to finally go need-blind or, actually, with the pandemic, are we headed in the opposite direction of that?
JS (3:35-3:50): Senior Benjamin Simon is also trying to navigate all the changes happening on campus as the editor of Scene, Student Life’s features section. He plans to use more personal profile stories to highlight the ways various members of the University community have been affected by the pandemic.
BEN SIMONE (3:51-4:23): We’re going to try and do kind of a regular feature of a Wash. U. worker. And so obviously you see like the cubbies when you’re walking around campus, and so we’re trying to find like the hidden stories like, you know, not just the cubbies where you can see like out in the open, but the workers at Wash. U., like the [circulator] driver, the [Bear’s Den] line cook, the landscapers. What are their lives like right now? And they’re a huge part of making the Wash. U. community move the way that it does.
JS (4:24-4:41): In Forum, our opinion section, Managing Editor senior Kya Vaughn and forum editor sophomore Jamila Dawkins have seen COVID-19 impact what people have to say and how they say it. Vaughn noted that writers have unsurprisingly shared more pessimistic perspectives than usual this semester.
KYA VAUGN (4:42-5:10): The tone has shifted to something a little more grave. I feel like it’s more serious and slightly less hopeful, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think a lot of people are there right now. And I think it makes sense with everything that’s going on. But, yeah, I feel like I personally have noticed that shift, but I could be looking through my own lens as well, so…
JS (5:11-5:18): Right, I know, Jamila, you just joined the editing team recently, but have you had any things you’ve noticed, whether about Forum in general or even your own writing?
JAMILA DAWKINS (5:19-5:57): I think that a lot of the issues that are on a lot of people’s minds right now are kind of melding together in very interesting ways. For example, the way that I find a lot of pieces that I’ve been seeing that center on the pandemic will pull in relevant information about social activism and vice versa. I feel like with these things so foremost on everyone’s minds, a lot of people are becoming a little bit more intersectional with the opinions that they hold and the way that everything kind of connects.
JS (5:58-6:20): To juniors Isabella Neubauer and Sabrina Spence, who serve as Senior Editors of Cadenza, our arts and entertainment section, quarantine has shown Wash. U. students how connected campus culture is to the arts. While students can no longer gather in Edison Theatre or Graham Chapel for a show, Spence is excited to see how both artists and audiences adapt to the circumstances.
SABRINA SPENCE (6:21-7:13): I would say what I’m most interested in, or most excited foris to see how the University shows up for virtual arts, entertainment events. Because I know, because I see the audiences at a cappella concerts and at Performing Arts Department productions when they’re in person, but I’m excited to see how Wash. U. students involve themselves with actually logging on to Zoom or going to the website and watching these events from their dorms or their apartments or their homes if they’re staying at home this semester. And I’m interested to see if we get a higher turnout because you don’t have to go anywhere or if it kind of stays the same.
ISABELLA NEUBAUER (7:14-7:49): Yeah, that’s mostly what I’m interested in, too. Just how the virtual experience is different from the in-person experience. Like, I’ve gone to so many a capella concerts during my time at Wash. U. I actually can’t count how many I’ve been to, but I’ve never been to one on Zoom. So I’m really interested to see how it’s done to see how, you know, the technology is able to incorporate all the elements of the show and to see how the energy of the show is going to be translated.
JS (7:50-8:09): While Neubauer reflects on countless hours spent at a cappella concerts, senior Dorian DeBose is also missing out on a major part of his Wash. U. experience: athletics. Now on his third year as Senior Sports Editor, DeBose struggled to wrap his head around a sports-less semester when fall athletics were cancelled back in July.
DORIAN DEBOSE (8:10-9:07): A lot of times, covering sports can be overwhelming, but it’s also so much of my life that, when I thought about what the semester looks like without them, it felt empty. And I also felt very sad because I know these athletes and I knew how bummed out they would be. And, like, we still have StudLife. They lost the thing that they do for most of their time, they lost their number one thing that they make their friends with, that they know people from, that they have dedicated so much of their time to, and so I… Especially having to write an article about that immediately after it happened, having to reach out to them to talk to them about what their experience was like, I think I had both my own dread and the second-hand dread from talking to them. It was a bummer. I didn’t really start to think like what the sports coverage would actually look like until a couple weeks later.
JS (9:08-9:22): So what does sports coverage look like with no campus sports to cover? To fellow Senior Sports Editor junior Josh Shapiro, the lack of athletics provides opportunities to explore forms of sports writing that go beyond reporting on games.
JOSH SHAPIRO (9:23-9:52): I think there’s a lot of interesting profiles to be done. One of the things we need to work on, I think, is balance. So, profiles and more long form stories as well. So again, looking at how maybe sports will change with this pandemic. I think that’s going to be a really interesting development. I’m not sure if sports in general are ever going to go back to sort of like the same way they were, right, with tons of fans at these giant stadiums.
JS (9:53-10:09): While he may not get to see them on the playing field, DeBose said that it’s the Wash. U. athletes who keep him motivated to cover sports. After writing a piece on all the great games that would have taken place at the end of September, DeBose received an unexpected message.
DD (10:10-10:40): I actually wound up getting an email from Ellie DeConinck from the Women’s Soccer Team. And it was just a very kind email about how they thought the article was and thanking me for just covering them for the last few years. So I think that that’s been one thing that keeps me going, just knowing that like, when we do cover Wash. U. sports, the athletes really do appreciate it.
JS (10:46-10:54): Tune in next Friday as we dive into one of the week’s biggest stories. For Student Life Media, I’m Jaden Satenstein.”

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News in Brief: Pi Beta Phi votes to disband
by Student Life
Oct 09, 2020
“Washington University’s chapter of Pi Beta Phi voted to relinquish its charter, effectively closing the chapter indefinitely, Oct. 4.
The vote to disband Pi Phi followed a tumultuous summer for Greek Life at Washington University, as many members of the community chose to permanently deactivate from their fraternities and sororities due to concerns over systemic racism, sexism, classism and heteronormativity within the system. Although 99% of chapter members had already submitted paperwork to deactivate, they were still permitted to vote since the paperwork had yet to be processed.
So far, Pi Phi is the first Greek organization at the University to officially close its chapter. Kappa Delta is currently awaiting the results of a petition to their national organization to close their chapter, and Delta Gamma’s national organization recently denied the Washington University chapter’s request to relinquish their chapter. Other organizations such as Beta Theta Pi and Chi Omega have experienced mass deactivations , but are still active on campus.
Grand President of Pi Beta Phi’s national organization, Marla Neely Wulf, expressed disappointment over the chapter’s decision to close.
“The decision of Missouri Beta collegiate members to close the chapter is met with great sadness by Grand Council,” Neelly Wulf said. “Walking away from Pi Beta Phi membership means diminishing the collaborative coalition of women who have, for decades, made change together.”
However, former Pi Phi member senior Nina Geers emphasized the widespread belief among Pi Phi members that abolition, not reform, was the only way for the sorority to effectively follow through on its commitment to social justice.
“We finally decided that, as a chapter… the damage that we had done as an institution can’t really be undone by reform,” Geers said. “It could only be done by ceasing to exist.”
Pi Phi’s closure has the potential to serve as a model for other chapters seeking to disband. Given that University administrators have adopted a pro-reform stance over the summer, Greek life will likely maintain a presence on campus in some form or another, despite deactivations and closures.
Additional reporting by Sabrina Sayed”

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From quarantine boredom to TikTok fame: WU senior shares life behind the screen
by Student Life
Oct 09, 2020
“Maya Nepos’ TikTok origin story began the same way as mine and probably yours too. After being sent home from school in March—in her case, a study abroad program—something had to fill the quarantine void. “I was just sad and in my room, and bored, and I was like ‘I guess I’ll download this, I don’t have anything else better to do with my time now that I have so much time.’”
Our origin stories deviate from one another, though, in that she is TikTok famous and I, well, have zero public videos on my account.
The Washington University senior has gained a large social media following for her informative yet entertaining TikTok videos pertaining to everything politics. From anti-Trump raps to reminders about voter registration, she brings viewers all the news coverage and commentary one could need in the confines of a minute.
Curran Neenan Washington University senior Maya Nepos sits in Bowles Plaza. Nepos returned to campus this fall as a TikTok star, accumulating over 200,000 followers.
Initially, Nepos’ account was set to private for her and her friends. But as time went on and the 2020 political scene grew more insane, she decided to go public about her opinions. “Trump did the whole ‘yeah maybe you should put bleach in your system,’…I can’t not say anything about this,” Nepos remembers.
By the time June rolled around, Nepos was filming about the Tulsa rally, the Black Lives Matter movement and even Kanye’s step into the election ring. She combined her passion for politics with her talent for freestyle rap to form relevant content. People seemed to really like it, so she kept doing it. And 203,000 followers later, Nepos’ success has seen no limit.
Just ask her about Alicia Keys, who recently reposted a TikTok of Nepos receiving her absentee ballot to the sound of Keys’ 2020 song, “Love Looks Better.” When she saw the singer’s Instagram story on Oct. 1, Nepos shrieked and proceeded to skip “all of school for the rest of the week.”
While Nepos is technically still a full-time Wash. U. student, she said her senior year has been drastically altered by her TikTok career. The original plan of having a chill, 12-credit spring semester was scrapped in exchange for having a lighter course load this fall semester—the semester of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.
Nepos likens the upcoming election in November to the Olympic Games. “Every four years the world is watching,” she says. And with less than four weeks left until Election Day, it is officially crunch time. “I have like 10 emails every two minutes in my inbox of people like, ‘Oh hey, we’re trying to get the vote out,’” Nepos says, “and I’m like, ‘Okay me too, let’s go!’”
Her apartment mates know how busy she is, but from an outsider perspective, it can be pretty hard to tell. “It’s pretty chaotic and it’s pretty nonvisible chaos,” Nepos explains. In our current COVID-19 world, even working with the BBC News on a documentary must happen from the safety of one’s room.
Despite the recurring theme of her videos, Nepos’ academic and career aspirations go far beyond the realm of civic activism. As a Psychology major and Marketing minor, she sees herself getting involved with marketing and social media in the future, but not politics per se.
Nepos does feel, however, that psychology makes its way into her TikTok experience through the connectivity of the platform. “Being able to relate to people is what gives me life,” says Nepos. And her videos have clearly resonated with all types of demographics, from fellow Wash. U. students to moms living in Alaska. “I never would’ve met these moms from Alaska if it weren’t for TikTok,” she adds. “It kind of just makes your world bigger, which is awesome, so I kind of just kept doing it.”
That’s not to say that politics has not been an integral part of Nepos’ upbringing though, because it has.
“I was into it before [recent years], just because my mom teaches political science and sociology and stuff. And so we would talk about it… that’s just like normal dinner conversation. When I was 11, [my mom] took me to my first protest. I have a picture of it somewhere on my massive wall,” Nepos says, motioning to the extensive photo collage in the background of her Zoom video.
They were bundled up on the streets of Madison, Wis., marching with the crowds of protesters demanding the recall of Governor Scott Walker. More than maybe even the specific cause itself, the mixed excitement of being in the capital and getting to skip school made that first protest a pivotal experience for Nepos and her interest in activism.
When asked which of her TikTok videos was her favorite, Nepos first mentioned one of her more viral ones: a Trump freestyle from July, when he first threatened to ban TikTok. After addressing him as “cinnamon bun,” Nepos goes on to call out the president on his attempts to limit freedom of speech when the words are not in his favor. That freestyle video has now been viewed over 2.3 million times on the social media app, with over 10,000 comments. “That was the one I started getting press about, even though I didn’t find out for like a month,” she said.
Nepos also encouraged and informed viewers on her TikTok to participate in poll working. The feedback on the video was overwhelmingly positive, with people reaching out to thank Nepos and let her know that they registered to be poll workers this November.
“We were like hundreds of thousands of poll workers short and so that one was the one I felt like I made the biggest impact on, I guess.” Nepos went on to say that she loves all her videos though, because if she didn’t, they would not have been posted in the first place.
When considering her account’s trajectory for post-election times, Nepos expressed a bit of uncertainty. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do after a month from now. I think I might just go on vacation or retire or something,” she laughed, “because hopefully I don’t have to be on TikTok for four more years. Like hopefully, things go well.””

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