I’m OK with the COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs. So is the White House. The programs range from free donuts and beer to lottery tickets to select free passes to attractions.
Still, I was just a tad put off by the fact that many of the incentives were only for the newly vaccinated. (Sidebar: a previously resistant local columnist got kudos for changing their mind and deciding to get the vaccine. Meh.)
Yeah, yeah, getting the injections as soon as I could was its own reward. Second Pfizer shot on March 24, for the record, back in the old days when people were actually in line to receive it.
So, I’m pleased that New York State is offering a Vaccination Scholarship Incentive. “Enter your vaccinated 12-17-year-old for a chance to win a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY school.” I believe we have one of those in our household. Yup, under 18, vaccinated the second time in mid-April. So I signed up.
“Get a shot to make your future. New Yorkers age 12 to 17 who get vaccinated (or already have gotten vaccinated) can enter for a chance to win a 4-year full-ride scholarship to any public college or university in New York State. Fifty total winners will be chosen at five random drawings. The scholarship includes full tuition, room, and board, as well as an allowance for books and supplies. Parents can learn more here.”
Oh, and here’s something potentially for me, as noted in the Boston Globe: “Starting June 1, you could score a VIP trip to Super Bowl LVI along with your COVID-19 vaccine at CVS. Woonsocket-based CVS Health announced… that eligible customers who received or plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through one of their retail pharmacies will be able to enter into their new sweepstakes program for a chance to win one of more than a thousand prizes. The winners will be chosen through weekly drawings and grand prizes over the next six weeks.”
Note to self: go to this site today. I’m going to the Super Bowl! OK, probably not. Where IS the Super Bowl next year anyway? Near Los Angeles.
Regardless, I hope this governmental and corporate bribery of the citizenry works to get more shots in arms.
Create a policy for a transparent investigation process due to law enforcement misconduct.
In the area of police reform, the Minneapolis Police Department is particularly problematic, I’ve discovered. One might not be surprised to find a story in the Boston Globe, from 4 June with the headline. Don’t let labor agreements thwart police accountability. “Union agreements too often prevent police departments from firing officers who act violently or inappropriately. Lawmakers of both parties need to take police discipline out of labor negotiations so that accountability can no longer be used as a bargaining chip.”
Yeah, do you know who else wrote that? The Federalist! And with some chilling details: “In the particular case of George Floyd…: at least two cops should have lost their jobs long before the event even occurred. Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on [George] Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, had previously received 20 complaints filed against him, resulting in two letters of reprimand. His partner, Tou Thao, was sued in 2017 for stopping a man without cause and beating him in the street. In both cases, their contracts protected them.”
Here’s another dreadful piece of the puzzle: “Lt. Bob Kroll, head of Minneapolis’s police union, said that he and a majority of the Minneapolis Police Officers’ Federation’s board have been involved in police shootings. Kroll said that he and the officers on the union’s board were not bothered by the shootings, comparing themselves favorably to other officers. ‘There’s been a big influx of PTSD,’ Kroll said. ‘But I’ve been involved in three shootings myself, and not one of them has bothered me. Maybe I’m different.” Maybe.
Likewise, according to the LA Times: “As protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd [continued], Los Angeles officials said [June 3] that they will cut $100 million to $150 million from the city’s police budget as part of a broader effort to reinvest more dollars into the local black community.” Here’s what the defund the police movement means.
Perhaps, it’ll be like what Bernie Sanders is pushing for: “civilian corps of unarmed first responders to supplement law enforcement, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals.”
Watch/read this now
If you’re still grappling with what this policing issue is all about, I most highly recommend Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. At the very end is a very eloquent, very angry young black woman talking about Protesters, Looters, Rioters, and the social contract between black people and the police.
The Weekly Sift guy explains How Should American Policing Change?
Surprisingly, in AIER, Donald J. Boudreaux suggests we protest also against police unions and qualified immunity.
New York State
“What we’ve been seeing play out across cities and townships throughout the country [recently] are Americans taking to the streets speaking out to say they’ve had enough of the status quo. Protesters are demanding meaningful systematic and structural changes to address the egregious racial inequities in our justice system and, really, in every facet of our government and society – including in policing, housing, health care, education, and employment, to name a few.”
There’s a list of potential police reform initiatives in the above graphic for New York State. Item #1 is the repeal of New York State’s police secrecy law, Section 50-a, which “hides police misconduct and abuse records from the public.” Retired Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox: “Repealing New York’s 50-a law is a critical step to protect the public safety of all New Yorkers.” It was just passed!
On the federal level, there is a bill called the Excessive Force Prevention Act. It was originally introduced in the House by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries which would make police chokeholds illegal under federal civil rights law. [The next bit I purloined from an email.]
National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-focused organization that works to end the horrific policy of pretrial detention and cash bail that keeps so many people of color in jails and prisons without a conviction, simply for being unable to pay. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, National Bail Out has been working to bail out Black mothers and caregivers—and now to bail out protesters who have been arrested en masse.
Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI) has announced that he will introduce an amendment that will prevent local police forces from getting tear gas, drones, armored vehicles, and high-caliber weapons of war from the military. This important amendment — in addition to initiatives to defund police departments and hold police officers accountable for committing crimes against the public — will help combat systemic police brutality in the U.S.
Contact Congress TODAY to stop police departments from buying weapons of war.
Local law enforcement agencies have bought billions of dollars worth of guns, explosives, helicopters, and more from the military. Senator Schatz wants to end this practice by passing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. This important amendment will prevent the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, but only if more members of Congress support it.
After Nearly 10,000 Arrested During Week of Protest, Three Other Police Officers Finally Charged Over Murder of George Floyd. “All you had to do was arrest three more.” “All four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death are now facing criminal charges. Until now the only one charged was Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd down with his knee on his neck. Minnesota’s AG announced he’s facing second-degree murder charges, updated from third-degree charges (which carry a shorter sentence). The three other officers – Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng – were charged with aiding and abetting murder. But recent news could escalate tensions.”
People have asked me, “What can I do?” Find whatever initiatives on policing that have been undoubtedly been kicking around your locality or state for years and let your representatives know you support police reform.
As I needed to go to the local CVS pharmacy and Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarket early on March 2, I brought my own canvas bags. I’ve been doing this long before the new NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law.
“As of March 1, 2020, [almost] all plastic carryout bags became banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax… Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a five-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee…
“In areas that have adopted the five-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children — a nutrition program) recipients…” There are exemptions involving produce and certain small stores, but you get the idea.
So I’m right behind some guy who has no reusable bags. In fact, he seems unaware of the new law. The store’s going to charge him a nickel for a paper bag. Strategically, he decides to pack his own bag, trying to get everything in one. Then he started ranting about how the big corporations are trying to “stick it to the little guy.” The cashier stoically said nothing.
Embracing the canvas
Luckily, I’ve been hoarding collecting reusable bags for a number of years. They tend to be available at almost every street fair (Larkfest and Pinkersterfest in ALB, e.g.) Also, they have been regular giveaways at work conferences. So, long before the law was passed, our household was ridiculously prepared. We’ve used reusable bags, or no bags, for years without legislative fiat.
Because our grocery stores have insisted on double-bagging almost EVERYTHING, we also have a few dozen plastic bags as well. Those will get used up eventually; you can use it different ways which you can view them here, they’re used as a garbage can or cat litter liner. Change is difficult, of course. Redeeming bottles and cans took a while for folks to get used to. And some still haven’t gotten there. Almost every time my wife goes for a walk around the neighborhood, she’s collected about a half a buck in returnables.
So I’m good with the new law. As someone said, “I’m usually good with a sin tax if it incentivizes me to adapt my behavior in a positive way.”
Back in January, the Governor signed a bill that moves all New York State primary elections, federal, state, and local races, to June.
In many ways, this is a very good thing, one I’ve supported. In previous years, the federal races – Congress, US Senator – were in June, with the others in September. The autumnal primaries were too late, giving the incumbent an unfair advantage.
To the surprise of many, the change went into effect right away. This has meant that the petitioning to get on the ballot took place in April rather than July.
One of the candidates for Family Court Judge, a countywide race, showed up at my door recently. I was thinking she wanted my signature on her petition. No, she wanted me to support her in the actual race. Given her door-to-door effort and her record, I think I will vote for her.
Yikes, there are SEVEN candidates for Family Court Judge for two slots. Of the other six, one I won’t vote for is the lawyer who screwed up the amount I needed for closing on the house we live in, leaving me $1800 short. He may be qualified for the court position, but it’s my one chance for vengeance.
Additionally, there are two candidates for one county court judge, and three candidates for one city court judge on June 25.
Finally, there’s a contentious race between two candidates for Albany County Comptroller. I know one of them personally. A supporter from the other camp Instant Messaged me to tout the qualifications and non-racist bona fides of his candidate.
The candidate I spoke with indicates that, in all of these Democratic primaries, the winner of those races will almost certainly be elected in November, because that’s the way it is in Albany County. That’s why I’m enrolled in a party.
I remain irritable that we in upstate New York can only vote from noon until 9 p.m., quite possibly the shortest primary slot in the country. Yet people in New York City, Long Island, some NYC suburbs, and Erie County (Buffalo) can vote from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Between 1963 and 1967, 1 version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than the live virus.
A couple weeks ago, I had posted on Facebook a news story about the measles. It noted that Los Angeles County health officials “told more than 900 college students and staff members to stay home because they may have been exposed.”
Someone I was unfamiliar with responded, “What is [the infection rate] in the countries from which most of the persons who enter this country illegally?”
I don’t know, but I pointed out that the folks bringing measles into the United States were not necessarily here illegally. Quoting the Centers for Disease Control: “The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated people who get infected in other countries. Typically 2 out of 3 of these unvaccinated travelers are Americans.”
But since she asked, I noted that while “measles is still common in many countries,” the current CDC Travel Notices on the disease are for Israel, Ukraine, Japan, Brazil – the state of Amazonas in particular – and the Philippines.
The World Health Organization, which has noted great strides being made: “In 2017, about 85% of the world’s children received 1 dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.”
Still, “Of the estimated 20.8 million infants not vaccinated with at least one dose of measles vaccine through routine immunization in 2017, about 8.1 million were in 3 countries: India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.”
I became curious about the propaganda machine that helped spread the disease in the United States. “PEACH, formally known as Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, has been circulating magazines and pamphlets since at least 2014 that claim vaccines are in opposition with Jewish religious law, (falsely) link vaccines to autism, and recount anonymous horror stories of children being irreparably harmed by vaccines.
“Led by Jewish mothers, the group has brought anti-vax arguments and conspiracies into a community known for its cautious interaction with the modern, secular world.” It’s an interesting story that helps explain why New York State is the epicenter of the measles outbreak in 2019.
A bit of history: “In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles…
“Measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States in 2000. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region.”
Also: “People who were vaccinated in the 1960s should double-check their vaccination records because there were two different types of the vaccine circulating at the time, and one was ineffective.
“The CDC warns that, between 1963 and 1967, one version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than live virus. This version was not effective, and those vaccinated with this version should receive a booster shot.”