Protests Across America | News from Robots | Workplace Burnout
June 1, 2020
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. ”
A Nation Mourns: We All Can’t Breathe
Minnesotan George Floyd, 46, was arrested Memorial Day for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. The unarmed, handcuffed black man was forced face down on the pavement, where Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, suffocating him to death. A witness videotaped the incident.
At first police said Floyd resisted arrest. Peaceful protests began in the Twin Cities, where civilians were met with a far harsher police response than anything faced by gun-toting anti-lockdown activists. As the truth surfaced, demonstrations spread across the US, shaming the Minneapolis police department into firing all four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. But when prosecutors still hadn’t decided by Thursday if the officers had committed a crime, passions ignited along with a police precinct.
Some demonstrations turned into riots; buildings burned and businesses were looted. Minnesota’s governor mobilized the National Guard, who fired on protesters and journalists with rubber bullets, pepper pellets and tear gas. An addled President Trump threatened military violence against those he called “THUGS,” writing “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Friday 44-year-old Chauvin, with 15 past conduct complaints, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. But nationwide frenzy continued over the weekend, and police increased their use of force. Curfews were enacted in dozens of cities; National Guard troops were called up in 15 states. In Washington DC federal buildings were vandalized and people demonstrated outside the White House. Hundreds have been arrested.
Trump described what happened to Floyd as a “very, very bad thing,” but has not talked of uniting the country, and only briefly mentioned those protesting racial injustice and police brutality. Instead America’s president tweeted the mayhem had “nothing to do with the memory of George Floyd,” but was perpetrated “by antifa and other radical left-wing groups.”
- The anger behind the protests, explained in 4 charts (Vox)
- Even With Years of Complaints, Police Forces Are Slow to Change (NYT, $)
- Caught on camera, police explode in rage and violence across the US (The Verge)
- Photos: Protests In Response To The Death Of George Floyd Shake The Nation (NPR)
- George Floyd’s brother says Trump ‘kept pushing me off’ during phone call (Guardian)
- New York police officers kneel with protesters (CNN)
- George Floyd Reverberates Globally: Thousands Protest In Germany, U.K., Canada (NPR)
- Protests over death of George Floyd turn violent again despite curfews, National Guard (Reuters)
- Gripped by disease, unemployment and outrage at the police, America plunges into crisis (WaPo, $)
- How to more safely protest in a pandemic (Vox)
- Twitter hides Trump tweet for ‘glorifying violence’ (BBC)
- Trump held call with Mark Zuckerberg amid controversy over protest posts (CNBC)
- What Happened in the Chaotic Moments Before George Floyd Died (NYT, $)
- Trump fled to bunker as protests over George Floyd raged outside White House (Guardian)
- 99 years ago today, one of America’s worst acts of racial violence took place in Tulsa (Vox)
If You Ban It, It Will Still Come
- South Africa has some of the highest levels of violent crime in the world, and more than 50 percent of murder victims have elevated levels of alcohol in their blood. Half of all murders take place on a Friday or Saturday night.
- In late March President Cyril Ramaphosa restricted the country’s 56 million inhabitants to their homes; at the same time he imposed a prohibition on buying or transporting alcoholic drinks.
- As a result of the strict lockdown, the murder rate has come down 63 percent. And traffic accidents, another major cause of deaths in South Africa, have also been significantly reduced. Cigarette sales were initially banned as well, on the basis that smoking weakens the respiratory system, and that in poorer areas people share cigarettes which could increase the risk of spreading the virus.
- Unfortunately, another result of the prohibitions has been to give a massive boost in illicit trade to organized crime networks. South Africa has long had a problem of criminal gangs illegally selling cigarettes. Now, syndicates that were already selling narcotics and cigarettes have added alcohol to the illegal goods they offer their customers. (Guardian)
Those Who Live In A Home With Glass Ceilings Shouldn’t Throw Stones
- Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist populist, swept into office over a year ago promising to transform the country into a more equal society. To his credit he has appointed the first cabinet with gender parity in Mexico’s recent history, giving top posts to prominent feminists.
- At the same time, he sounds dismissive and condescending when addressing his country’s record-levels of violence against women. Despite his own government’s announcement that over 26,000 reports of violence against women had been reported in March to the emergency call center, AMLO waved it off. “Ninety percent of those calls that you’re referring to are fake,” he said at a recent news conference.
- Tens of thousands marched in Mexico City last March in the largest feminist protests in recent history. AMLO called the protests the work of political opponents “who want to see this government fail.”
- When he was recently asked about femicide, the killing of women because of their gender, he blamed the media for “manipulating” the issue. And now that the pandemic has forced Mexicans to stay at home more often, AMLO insists the crisis hasn’t made life more dangerous for victims of domestic violence, because unlike in other countries, Mexicans “are accustomed to living together.” (NYT)
Additional World News
- U.S. lawmakers to unveil bill banning investment in firms tied to China’s military: document (Reuters)
- Mining firm Rio Tinto sorry for destroying Aboriginal caves (BBC)
- A Mile-Long Line for Free Food in Geneva, One of World’s Richest Cities (NYT, $)
- Western Countries Leave Children of ISIS in Syrian Camps (NYT, $)
- Wars without end: why is there no peaceful solution to so much global conflict? (Guardian)
- Bolsonaro joins rally against Brazil’s top court; judge warns democracy at risk (Reuters)
- In World’s Happiest Nation, Teens Don’t Want to Vape Anymore (Bloomberg, $)
- What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State? (NPR)
- When COVID-19 Starts to Feel Normal (New Yorker)
- Here’s the best way to clean your face mask (National Geographic)
- Masks for Covid-19: America’s changing guidance, explained (Vox)
- How this country of 97 million kept its coronavirus death toll at zero (CNN)
COVID-19 & Money
- In a post-coronavirus world, China looks set to grow while the rest of the world contracts (CNBC)
- Workers living in Mexico helping California’s pandemic health response (Reuters)
- Amazon’s Big Breakdown (NYT, $)
- Opinion | On the Economics of Not Dying (NYT, $) & Paul Krugman Is Pretty Upbeat About Coronavirus Economic Recovery (Bloomberg)
- Masks not allowed: Texas bar owner bans customers from wearing face coverings (WaPo, $)
- Opinion | Coronavirus Showed How Globalization Broke the World (NYT)
- Google Rescinds Offers to Thousands of Contract Workers (NYT, $)
This Newsletter Was Written By Humans
- Microsoft is laying off dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations. Many of the affected workers are part of Microsoft’s SANE division — search, ads, news, edge — and are contracted as human editors helping to pick stories.
- The layoffs are part of a bigger push to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content that’s presented on MSN.com and inside Microsoft’s Edge browser, and in the company’s various Microsoft News apps.
- At the time Microsoft News was launched almost two years ago, the company had “more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world.” But in recent months it’s been moving toward AI to perform the work, and it’s encouraged publishers and journalists to make use of AI as well.
- About 50 jobs are affected in the US, and some 27 in the UK. Microsoft says the layoffs aren’t directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, although media businesses throughout the world have been hit hard by loss of advertising revenue across TV, newspapers, online and more. (Verge)
- The Demise of Local News Is a Pandemic Emergency (Atlantic, $)
- Additional reference: Turing test
Fiona Goodall via Getty Images
And On The Seventh Day, God Rested At Home And Zoomed Into Mass
- President Trump is pushing hard for churches to quickly open back up, but black pastors in St. Louis are preaching caution. “I have a more personal view of the devastation than many people,” said Elijah Hankerson, bishop of St. Louis’s Church of God in Christ.
- African Americans in the St. Louis area have been hit far harder by Covid-19 than other groups. They account for less than half the city’s population, but almost two-thirds of both infections and deaths. In the surrounding county, the death rate for African Americans is twice as high as it is for whites.
- Nationally, the mostly white and evangelical faith leaders have been among the loudest voices demanding a quick reopening. Alleging that bans on large gatherings violate religious freedom, these faith leaders have sued governors, joined protests on statehouse steps, and cheered Trump on as he recently vowed to override any governor who refuses to allow places of worship to spread their doors wide.
- However, the disproportionately heavy impact Covid-19 has had on African Americans in St. Louis has led Hankerson and other black faith leaders into an unexpected and uncomfortable position: urging officials from the governor on down to keep their churches closed, along with much of the rest of normal life. (WaPo)
- Supreme Court Rejects Church’s Challenge To California’s Coronavirus Rules (NPR)
Additional USA News
- SpaceX successfully launched its Crew Dragon mission to orbit (The Verge) & Elon Musk’s SpaceX Suit Is Like a Tuxedo for the Starship Enterprise (NYT, $)
- Millions Relying on Pandemic Aid Can See Its End, and They’re Scared (NYT) & ‘People are going to go hungry’: pandemic effects could leave 54m Americans without food (Guardian)
- The Hawaii navy base fueling Trump’s quest for ‘super duper’ missiles (Guardian)
- New Transcript Shows Trump Adviser Michael Flynn Colluding With Russia in 2016 (NY Mag)
Burning On Both Ends To No End
- Sportspeople get it. YouTube stars get it. Entrepreneurs get it. Late last month, the World Health Organization announced that the trendy condition of “burnout” will be recognized in its latest International Classification of Diseases manual, where it is described as a syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
- The WHO notes three elements of burnout: feelings of exhaustion, mental detachment from one’s job, and poorer performance at work. The WHO cautions people not to wait until they’re fully burnt out before trying to do something about it.
- So how do you know you might be fast approaching burnout? “A lot of the signs and symptoms of pre-burnout would be very similar to depression,” said psychotherapist Siobhán Murray. Murray suggests keeping a lookout for creeping bad habits, like increased alcohol consumption, or relying on sugar to get you through the day.
- Also watch out for feelings of tiredness that won’t leave. For example, even if you’ve had a good night’s sleep, by 10 am “you’re already counting down the hours when you can go back to bed.” Or perhaps “not having the energy to exercise or go for a walk.”
- Murray explains that while the symptoms of depression and pre-burnout are very similar, burnout is “still classified as an occupational phenomenon.” It’s important to get help from a medical professional who can distinguish between the two, because although there are many treatment options for depression, burnout is still best tackled by making lifestyle changes. (BBC)
- The secret to a long and healthy life? Eat less (BBC) Additional quote: “Less is More” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
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